Rwandan students who were recently taken into safe custody Arua have expressed fear for their lives if forcefully returned to Rwanda.
Sixteen students last month fled the Rwandan capital Kigali and sought asylum into Uganda over what they called harassment from the government.
One of the students who declined to be identified told our reporter that the Rwandan Ambassador to Uganda, Major General Frank Mugambage, continues to assure Rwandans back home that the students would be taken back to Rwanda.
However, the students have vowed not to return to Rwanda where they alleged that government was planning to conscript them into M23, a rebel group based in the DRC. But Ambassador Mugambage told the media late last month that the students are actually running away from the law after being involved in examination malpractices.
Speaking to redpepper, the students said though they had been promised that they were being taken into a secure place where there were no other Banyarwanda, they have reportedly met several of them in Arua.
Though all the students have been locked away and are unable to talk or buy anything from the outside world, one of the students said the Rwandans in Arua had tried to access them.
One of the students described the area they are staying as the middle of a forest where if people wanted to kidnap them they would find it very easy.
When the students sought to know about the many Rwandans in Arua, they were told they were cattle keepers.
The students are getting used and are staying in a house by themselves where they are fed on porridge for breakfast and posho and beans for the lunch and supper.
Recently, the Commissioner for Refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister, Apollo David Kazungu, said the students were considered asylum seekers until the Refugee Eligibility Committee pronounces itself on their status.
Kazungu said as asylum seekers the students were protected by the 1951 UN Convention, the OAU protocol relating to status of refugees and asylum seekers, together with the Refugee Act 2006.
He stated that under the above legislations no person seeking asylum would be forced back to where he/she is likely to be persecuted.
Kazungu said until when the Refugee Eligibility Committee pronounces itself on the status of the 16 students, they are protected against forceful deportation.
The Refugee Eligibility Committee is an inter-ministerial committee which determines the status of asylum seekers. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) also has an observer on the Committee.