Tanzania: UNHCR steps up its campaign for the return of Burundian refugees

Tanzania: UNHCR steps up its campaign for the return of Burundian refugees

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi was visiting Tanzania this week. He strongly argued for the “voluntary” repatriation of Burundian refugees in Tanzania. Those concerned fear drastic measures to force them to repatriate. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

On Friday, the UNHCR boss was received by the Tanzanian president to discuss among others the issue of Burundian refugees.

“I discussed with President Samia Suluhu Hassan how to intensify support for the voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees. Efforts aimed at creating the conditions for sustainable returns must increase and require the commitment of everyone most particularly development actors,” said Filippo Grandi.

Before going to Tanzania, this high-level diplomat passed through Burundi on Thursday and met the Burundian President Évariste Ndayishimiye.

“They essentially discussed actions to be taken for a better reintegration of returnees. Especially since they continue to return massively to their homeland”, underlined the Burundian presidency.

The UN High Commissioner meanwhile appreciated the security situation in Burundi.

“I was received by President Ndayishimiye, two years after my last visit to Burundi, within the context of stabilizing the country. We stressed the importance of supporting the reintegration of Burundian returnees and of improving reception conditions of Congolese refugees,” he said.

Concern among Burundian refugees in Tanzania who are not willing to return voluntarily.

“We know how to interpret these signs which do not deceive”, reacted a Burundian in exile for the third time in the Nyarugusu camp.

This Burundian has bad memories.

“In 2013, I was in Mtabila camp, right here in Tanzania. Before the destruction of this camp, similar scenarios occurred: untimely visits by UNHCR officials and Burundian authorities to the camps. Commissions ‘go and see, go and come to tell’ as is the case now. Calls for voluntary return, draconian measures and poor living conditions…that’s it,” he recalls.

“After, we pretended to resist, the Mtabila camp was destroyed one good morning, we were loaded into trucks by force. There have been deaths. There is a great risk that this nightmare will start again. I am not a bird of bad omen but I feel it, ”explains this fifty-year-old.

In a tour that the UNHCR Country Representative in Tanzania, Mahoua Parums has made in the last two weeks in the refugee camps, she felt that the issue of Burundian refugees must find lasting solutions. “Voluntary” repatriation remains the only preferred means.

Tanzania has more than 247,000 refugees, including more than 145,000 Burundians.

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