Rwanda starts issuing machine readable travel documents to refugees


(Photo: Rwanda refugee)

Rwandan government Wednesday started issuing machine readable travel documents to refugees in the country, which will allow them to move freely across borders.

A launch ceremony in Rwandan capital city Kigali witnessed the issuance of bio-metric travel documents to refugees who were verified in the ongoing verification exercise, and who have recently requested the respective documents to facilitate their travel abroad.

The issuance of travel documents will positively impact refugees' daily life and legal cross-border movements, said Rwandan refugee minister De Bonheur Jeanne D'Arc at the ceremony.

"One of the fundamental rights of refugees is the right to free movement in different countries except their country of origin. The government of Rwanda committed to ensure that hosted refugees get access to legal documents to facilitate them to have access to different services," she said.

According to her, issuing travel document to refugees is in line with the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees, which was ratified by the Rwandan government in 1979.

The issuance will be implemented by Rwandan Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees, Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration together with UN refugee agency UNHCR.

The central African country currently hosts about 153,000 refugees mainly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the Rwandan refugee ministry.

In August, Rwanda launched the issuance of valid refugee identification cards for refugees in the country, which enable them access public and private services, employability as well as move more freely in the country.