The governments of Tanzania and Burundi and the UNHCR announced that they had reached an agreement about a workable plan that will aid in the voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees.
Tanzania’s President Magufuli has on several occasions been viewed as impatient and eager to send the refugees back home and has faced criticism for urging Burundians to return home. Tanzania hosts more than 350,000 refugees from neighboring countries. More than two-thirds of them are from Burundi.
According to Tanzanian officials, they have registered over 11,000 Burundians for voluntary repatriation, but the process has been delayed because of logistical and administrative reasons. With the Burundian counterparts saying that the process has been chaotic and informal.
“We are committed to supporting any refugee that expresses a voluntary request to return,” said UNHCR representative Chansa Kapaya. “Indeed, what we have discussed here is that this return should be in safety and dignity, and by safety we mean legal, physical and material safety. The political dialogue is still taking place. They haven’t been concluded, but the government of Burundi here has assured everyone that the returnees everyone will be accorded that physical security.”
Burundi has been in turmoil since 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third term in office, an idea his opponents said violated the Constitution and the accord that ended Burundi’s civil war.
The process to repatriate the first Burundians from Tanzania is expected to begin September 7th. Burundi says it will open reception centers to receive its citizens.