Refugee travel pass upgraded

Sunday February 4 2018

UNHCR staff issue out travel documents to

UNHCR staff issue out travel documents to refugees. AFP PHOTO | MARC JOURDIER 

By RODRIGUES RWIRAHIRA
More by this Author

Rwanda is upgrading the travel document issued to refugees, which replaces the old Titre de Voyage, which literary translates to Convention Travel Document (CTD).

The Directorate of Immigration says the changes align the document with new standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which require travellers to carry machine readable identity documents.

Officials say the new travel document will further ease the movement of refugees across borders.

Yves Butera, the spokesperson for the Directorate of Immigration and Emigration said modalities for issuing the new document were under discussion.

A travel document is issued by a country that is party to the 1954 Geneva Convention to facilitate the travel of a stateless person.

However, refugees remain sceptical and claim it has not been easy for them to access the old document.

“We have been trying to get the document for a few years now as we wanted to travel to the US, but only a few have managed to get one,” said Jacques Ngoga a refugee in Gihembe Camp.

Tedious process

Martin Ngamije a refugee at Gihembe Camp said Rwandan immigration officials have been asking them to prove that their move to other countries would be safer or why they sought asylum in Rwanda if they knew they would need to travel and resettle in other countries, before they can get travel documents.

Mr Ngamije who eventually relocated to Kenya said the tedious process and scrutiny, leads many to simply give up.

Mr Butera said asking prospective immigrants to fulfil procedural requirements does not equate to denial of access to travel documents.
“There are always procedures to follow and the requirements are clearly set,” he said. 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) country office in Rwanda said the new travel document was the result of a joint effort.

It involved procurement of new machines that are compatible with Machine Readable Conventional Travel Documents (MRCTDs).

“In 2015, UNHCR gave funds for to by equipment for issuing the MRCTDs. We will continue to offer our support to ensure that refugees in Rwanda can access MRCTDs as is their right,” said Daniela Ionita, UNHCR external relations officer.

Ms Ionita added that UNHCR has been issuing Convention Travel Documents for refugees who urgently needed to travel out of Rwanda for reasons ranging from education, family reunification, health and work.

Related stories