Burundi-Rwanda: Gitega wants to calm Burundian refugees in Kigali

Burundi-Rwanda: Gitega wants to calm Burundian refugees in Kigali

This Monday, Burundi sent a delegation to Rwanda for a campaign of sensitization on the voluntary return of Burundian refugees. They were five including three governors of provinces including two bordering with Rwanda. Rwanda is still home to more than 50,000 Burundian refugees. But the delegation was not convincing. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

The delegation team was welcomed at the southern Rwandan border of Gasenyi-Nemba. It’s composed by André Ndayambaje, permanent secretary at the ministry in charge of internal affairs and security, Nestor Bimenyimana, director general of repatriation, Col. Léonidas Bandenzamaso governor of Bururi (southern Burundi), Albert Hatungimana governor of Kirundo and Col.Rémy Cishahayo governor of Kayanza (north of the country).

At the border post they were received by Philippe Habinshuti, permanent secretary at the Rwandan ministry in charge of refugees, Emmanuel Gasana and Alice Kayitesi respectively governors of the eastern and southern provinces of Rwanda.

The delegation was quickly taken to Kigali (the Rwandan capital) to meet leaders of the committee of more than 8,000 urban Burundian refugees.

Hand stretched out…

The head of the delegation, André Ndayambaje wants to be more than reassuring.

“We are here to tell you that everything you have fled is no longer up to date whether security or economics. Go home,” said Mr. Ndayambaje, in a room full of representatives of Burundian refugees, mainly from the committee of urban refugees. The committee has activists and figures from civil society, former senior officials of the country, former soldiers or even other intellectuals.

In the room, the refugee representatives seemed less convinced.

“All the right conditions are in place to welcome you warmly. We want you to be able to contribute to the country’s development programs. We are here as brothers and sisters. We want a massive and voluntary repatriation. Nothing can still justify refugee status for Burundians,” insisted this general of the Burundian police.

Refugee reactions

We have shown in black and white that there are returnees who are killed, missing and others who prefer to go back to exile here or elsewhere. For others, their property, land, plots and houses have been seized, looted or confiscated by the government or its agents. And then there are arrest warrants and threats hanging over some of us. So how do you expect us to get into these conditions? “, enumerated Patrice Ntadohoka, president of the committee of urban refugees.

And discuss political issues.

“We demand the end of the 2018 constitution which repealed that of 2005 and the Arusha agreements, at least the return to constitutional legality as long as the EAC Court has ruled that the 3rd term was unconstitutional”, explained Mr. Ntadohoka.

And to insist: “yes, we assume that the new president is in good faith, but he is poorly surrounded. His entourage does not want us. Let him settle that and then we will go back because Burundi is our homeland too”.

The Burundian delegation remains evasive

“It is normal to go into exile when you have valid reasons. But for the moment, peace and security reign throughout the national territory. And then, some information you have is not up to date because you are far, out of the country. We assure you that you will be treated well. But there are some who have fled following land disputes and or legal cases, economic or other problems. We will also see how to fix things to remove all the obstacles ”, wanted André Ndayambaje said.

Kigali remains the facilitator

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry in charge of Refugees thanks Burundi for having started this process which, according to Philippe Habinshuti, is a lasting solution to the refugee issue.

“It’s good to come and sensitize and convince the refugees to return after showing them the current state of security,” he said.

Rwanda accepts that it will be ready to help Burundians who want to return.

“We are here to support this process, of voluntary repatriation, but also those who do not feel at peace, we will continue to offer them asylum as we do for others who seek asylum”, underlined Philippe Habinshuti.

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