#Tanzania to send back all Burundian refugees from October
Tanzanian and Burundian officials announce deal but UNHCR says Burundi conditions are not conducive to promote returns.
Tanzania wants to proceed from October 1 to the repatriation of all Burundian refugees present on its soil, saying that the situation in neighboring Burundi now allows their return, told Tuesday to AFP the Tanzanian Minister of the Interior, Kangi Lugola .
“In agreement with the Burundian government and in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, we will begin the repatriation of all Burundian refugees on 1 October,” said Kangi Lugola, who was reached by telephone.
“Under this agreement, 2,000 refugees will be repatriated each week, until there are no more Burundian refugees in Tanzania,” the minister said.
According to him, Tanzania currently hosts around 200,000 Burundian refugees living in camps in the Kigoma region (north-west).
Minister Lugola and his Burundian counterpart, Pascal Barandagiye, traveled Sunday to one of the refugee camps to announce this decision to the key stakeholders.
Speaking publicly, Mr. Lugola assured that any interference in the implementation of this agreement would be punished by Tanzania.
He said he had “information that people, international organizations are luring refugees that there is no peace in Burundi”.
“This is not true, Burundi is at peace and the refugees have to go home,” he added.
More than 69,000 returned refugees
“I’m not intimidating you, I’m just saying that no one is playing with the government (of President John) Magufuli. Those who lure the refugees, encourage them not to return home, we will stop them all, “he threatened.
During a meeting with his counterpart Pierre Nkurunziza, in northwestern Tanzania, in July 2017, President Magufuli personally called on Burundian refugees to return home.
Tanzania, Burundi and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR ) then reached an agreement on the repatriation of Burundian refugees who have expressed their willingness to return to their country.
In total, as of May 2019, 69,508 people have voluntarily returned to Burundi under this agreement, according to UNHCR .
However, Tanzania and Burundi recognized at the time that some refugees had “well-founded reasons” for wanting to remain in exile and the right “to continue to enjoy international protection”, many of whom had expressed their fear forced repatriation.
Burundi has been in crisis since President Nkurunziza announced in April 2015 his candidacy for a third term. He was re-elected in July of the same year.
The violence and repression that accompanied the crisis reportedly left at least 1,200 people dead and displaced more than 400,000 people between April 2015 and May 2017, according to estimates by the International Criminal Court, which has opened an investigation.