Panafrican News Agency

Burundi braces for reception of its refugees from Tanzania

Bujumbura, Burundi (PANA) - A weekly repatriation of an average of 2,000 Burundian refugees from Tanzania will be organized starting on 1 October, the public radio announced here on Tuesday.

The radio quoted Burundian Minister of the Interior Pascal Barandagiye who has just returned from a mission in neighbouring Tanzania, the country  that hosts the bulk of Burundian exiles of the 2015 electoral crisis.

Barandagiye said that an agreement was formalized to that effect based on the return to security in Burundi, where the political crisis that followed the controversial  election with violence, had pushed around 500,000 citizens into exile.

Burundian refugees still living in neighbouring countries, however, are reluctant to respond to incessant calls by Burundian authorities, suspecting that the reasons that made them flee are still there.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is not part of the agreement between the Burundian and Tanzanian governments.

UNHCR promotes the principle of voluntary return for any asylum seeker under its  assistance.         

The Refugee Agency is currently identifying Burundian refugees in Tanzania whose exact number is raiding controversy in Bujumbura.

Visiting the country in April 2018, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Philippo Grandi conceded an electronic census of Burundian refugees in Tanzania to silence the controversy.

But, the Burundian authorities did not hesitated to accuse the UNHCR of making refugees "a goodwill".

In March 2018, UNHCR joined the previous tripartite deal (Burundi-UNHCR-Tanzania) on the assisted repatriation of Burundian refugees. The agreement provided for the repatriation of 2,000 people a week, from April 5 to December 31, 2018.

Priority should be given to the repatriation of some 19,148 Burundian refugees whose intention of return had been verified by UNHCR.

The final communiqué of the tripartite meeting paid tribute to Tanzania, which hosts many Burundian refugees from the East African subregion.

Since January, more than 15,000 Burundians have been voluntarily repatriated, mainly from Tanzania, while 642 have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, according to UNHCR.

Tanzania currently hosts approximately 189,000 Burundian refugees, Rwandans 71,000, DR Congolese 45,000 and Ugandans 41,000, making a total of 346,000 refugees from neighboring countries.

-0- PANA FB/BEH/KND/AR 27Aug2019