Burundian refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Malawi and Zambia are coming back home according to UNHCR.-By Yves Didier Irakoze.
“The repatriation operation of Burundian refugees is a permanent operation of UNHCR Burundi in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The process of repatriation has already started for Burundian refugees,” points out Alix Nijimbere, Public Information and Communication Assistant at UNHCR. According to him, since the beginning of this year 2014, they have set up a mechanism to facilitate the Burundian refugees’ repatriation from neighboring countries like DRC, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia. “We have already received 3 convoys from DRC, Malawi and Kenya,” states Nijimbere. Alix Nijimbere adds that those refugees pass at Kajaga transit camp before movingto their own destination area. They work hand in hand with the Supporting Project of Repatriation and Reinsertion of Victims (PARESI) in charge of sending returnees to their origin area.
“There is a follow-up monitoring mechanism of the returnees’ reintegration by the UNHCRin order to realize how they live, if they have lands to cultivate… But this work is carried out in partnership with the government,” declares Nijimbere. However, mentions Nijimbere, due to budget reason, the assistance support will end in June 2014. “But we are looking for a partnership project that will take over: There will be the involvement of development partners, United Nations agencies and the Government,” he states.
Alix Nijimbere reminds that this process of repatriation is a long standing mission of UNHCR which is regularly operational. “We have already repatriated more than 500,000 Burundian refugees from Tanzania while others have been resettled in other countries or naturalized Tanzanians,” indicates Nijimbere.
Concerning the issue of land that may cause controversy in Burundi between the local people and the repatriated, Nijimbere mentions that this issue is not for their mission. But he says that the UNHCR with other partners will run their respective missions very smoothly and effectively. “Each people has the right to go back home regardless of the problem of land. However, the UNHCR with other partners will see what they can do and give a hand to the government to reintegrate repatriated people,” concludes Alix Nijimbere.