Burundi: more than 70,000 Burundian refugees to be repatriated in 2023

Burundi: more than 70,000 Burundian refugees to be repatriated in 2023

The challenge was announced by the inspector general of the ministry for internal affairs and security on Tuesday during a visit in Nyarugusu camp. It’s under the same ministry that the department for refugee is governed. The delegation led by General Isidore Ndihokubwayo also included a group of Burundian returnees, formerly living in the refugee camps in the DRC, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. This Wednesday, he went to Nduta camp. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

The main objective is to sensitize refugees to massive voluntary repatriation.

Welcomed to the field of zone 10 of the Nyarugusu camp in Tanzania, Isidore Ndihokubwayo tried to reassure the refugees.

“The government of Burundi reassures you, no intimidation, prosecution, inhuman treatment, persecution or discrimination or ethnic division or division based on political affiliation on your hills of origin. And peace and security prevail throughout the national territory. Go back and you will live in peace,” explained General Ndihokubwayo.

“And then, the vision of the new hard-working government is the search for peace and national reconciliation as well as inclusive sustainable development for everyone,” he said.

The Burundian delegation in the refugee camps in Tanzania also includes 10 returnees. They claimed to have been repatriated at different times from refugee camps in the DRC, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.

They, too, gave “a warm welcome”

“You already recognize me here, I lived in zone 8. When I returned to my homeland, I was scared. But, little by little, I integrated myself and for the moment I am a member of a savings cooperative on my hill of origin in Makamba (southern Burundi). My children went back to school and I resumed my agricultural activities. In any case, I don’t miss anything,” said a former refugee from Nyarugusu.

Same story with his compatriot from the Mahama camp in Rwanda

“I was worried that I was going to be intimidated and chased because I was from Burundi’s enemy country, Rwanda. I was afraid of being unjustly accused of being part of the rebel groups. But, I fear nothing, I normally go about my activities, if I have a problem I go to the chief of the hill and if I miss something, I ask my neighbors, “said a man aged about fourty years.

The head of the delegation promised refugees in Tanzania that Burundi and UNHCR intend to increase the number of voluntary repatriations next year.

“In 2023, we expect to repatriate at least 70,000 Burundians from EAC countries, especially Tanzania, Uganda, DRC and Rwanda. This is why we are planning to go to these countries, where possible, to reassure these Burundians and ask them to participate massively in voluntary repatriation,” said the representative of the Burundian government.

“No returnee will have any problems, the land will be returned to you, agricultural, educational and health reintegration will be our priority and you will be admitted to development cooperatives” he went on saying.

An unwelcome call…

Has a bad start, the refugees from the Nyarugusu camp did not respond massively to the appointment to welcome the delegation from their country of origin.

“Even the prayer they made was dishonest. To say that God has answered their prayer for the country to have peace! And then no one here said Amen. This prompted the representative of the Tanzanian Ministry of Interior to ask us to change our behavior. We were also few in number, furious, dissatisfied,” describe Burundian refugees.

The reactions are more severe

“We are not going to answer this call. We know that these returnees are members of the ruling party who were sent here, and even when they were still here, they were suspected. Then, their words are lies, testified by the people who come back here to ask for asylum again. And then again, the reports of human rights violations that are committed in Burundi show the opposite of their testimony”, add refugees.

Rather, the visit frightens them

“We know what these visits mean, they may be the last alerts for us before Tanzania closes our camps. Some started fleeing to other countries like Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda. And those who remain here have resigned themselves but we are not going to give in to intimidation,” other refugees said.

Some Burundians say they risk being forced to make “a bad decision”

“Better to die at home than to be buried in exile. Famine here is likely to make us change our minds and make a suicidal decision to return. I’m not the only one, but hey, there’s no other choice. If possible, we could perhaps change the province of origin when we return,” explained another Burundian refugee.

The delegation indicated that from June 2020 to November 2022, more than 119,000 Burundians had already returned to the country from camps set up in EAC countries.

These camps still shelter more than 256,000 Burundians, according to the UNHCR.

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