Tanzania censures rumours on forceful repatriation of Burundians

Dodoma, Tanzania (PANA) – Tanzania has called on the international community to ignore rumours on forceful repatriation of Burundian refugees, and instead support the ongoing voluntary repatriation exercise.

The exercise is being conducted with due respect to human dignity, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation said in a statement it issued in Dodoma on Friday.

“The Government urges the international community to continue providing the much-needed financial resources for the ongoing voluntary repatriation exercise,” it said, urging all the Burundian refugees in the country to continue registering “for voluntary repatriation so that they can go and participate in building their country, where peace and security have now returned”.

For more than five decades, Tanzania has hosted refugees from different countries and remains committed to finding durable solutions for these refugees, which have included naturalizing over 250,000, of whom 162,156 were Burundians who entered Tanzania in 1972.

From April 2015, Tanzania received an influx of refugees from Burundi due to political instability following the general elections. This led to the creation of two refugee camps in western Tanzania at Nduta and Mtendeli.

As of 1 August 2018, the number of Burundian refugees hosted at Nduta, Mtendeli and Nyarugusu camps totalled 213,562.

Between May 2016 and July 2017, a substantial number of Burundian refugees started returning to their country and many requested to be registered and assisted to voluntarily repatriate.

When Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli and his Burundian counterpart, President Pierre Nkurunziza met in July 2017, already 6,000 Burundian refugees had registered for voluntary repatriation.

“In the same vein, Tanzania has assisted repatriation of refugees to their countries of origin whenever peace, security and stability were restored. Tanzania has also been in the forefront in facilitating resettlement of refugees to third countries, including the United States (25,094), Canada (2,278) and Australia (1,969),” the ministry recalled.

According to the government statement, following delays in assisting the repatriation of the registered refugees, some of them at Nduta camp rioted and, as a result, various properties, including vehicles and infrastructure, were destroyed.

Tanzania convened the first meeting of the Tripartite Commission, involving Tanzania, Burundi and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Dar es Salaam on 31 August 2017.

Among other things, the meeting agreed to repatriate 12,000 refugees by 31 December 2017. However, by that date, 13,102 refugees who had voluntarily registered were repatriated safely and in dignity.

“Until 9 August 2018, a total of 42,463 Burundian refugees were already assisted to repatriate, while 30,401 refugees had been voluntarily registered, and were eagerly waiting to be assisted to repatriate,” said the ministry.

“So far, there are no records of any Burundian refugee returning to Tanzania after their repatriation. This, among others, bears testimony to the presence of peace, security and political stability in Burundi.”

Following the successful outcomes of the first Tripartite Commission Meeting, Burundi convened the second meeting of the Commission in Bujumbura on 28 March 2018. The meeting resolved to repatriate 72,000 voluntarily registered Burundian refugees by 31 December 2018.

The Government said that through its missions abroad, particularly in Western Europe, it has been informed of existence of some groups of people resident in those countries that “are spreading preposterous rumors”, that Tanzania  forcefully repatriated Burundian refugees.

“This is contrary to the truth, and we see this to be designed to undermine the successes of the ongoing voluntary repatriation exercise,” the statement added.
-0- PANA AR 17Aug2018

17 august 2018 10:56:07

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