Tanzania government on Tuesday announced it will begin sending back all Burundian refugees from October as part of an agreement with neighboring Burundi, adding that the repatriation will take place in collaboration with the United Nations, reported The Independent.
Tanzanian Interior Minister Kangi Lugola and his Burundi counterpart, Pascal Barandagiye, signed the agreement on Sunday. The two visited a camp where they announced the return to the refugees themselves. Under the agreement, Tanzania would return Burundi refugees at the rate of 2,000 a week from several camps in western Tanzania.
“In agreement with the Burundian government and in collaboration with the High Commissioner for Refugees, we will start the repatriation of all Burundian refugees on October 1,” Tanzanian Interior Minister Kangi Lugola said. “Under this agreement, it will be 2,000 refugees who will be repatriated every week until there are no more Burundian refugees in Tanzania.”
Hundreds of Burundians were killed and more than 400,000 fled to neighboring countries, predominantly to Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, due to violence by state security forces following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision in April 2015 to run for a third, disputed, term in office. Nkurunziza’s regime has been widely accused of rights abuses. According to government figures, some 200,000 Burundians are in Tanzania currently.
Lugola it would facilitate the return of all Burundians in the country because Burundi is peaceful. He warned that Tanzania would not brook any interference in the repatriation accord. He said he had information that people, international organizations, are deceiving people by telling them there is no peace in Burundi.
However, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Tuesday said that the conditions in Burundi are not conducive to promote returns. The UNHCR noted that it is assisting refugees who have made a voluntary choice to return home.