Human Right

Burundians chased from Tanzania want to join their families back

They brought nothing and their partners don’t know where they are. Those are men and women who are married to Tanzanians. The administration has promised to seek solutions – By Diane Uwimana

Partial view of some Burundians in the Karubara site ©Iwacu

Partial view of some Burundians in the Karubara site ©Iwacu

It’s 8 am. It’s nice, a bit warm as well as easy to accede to Karubara site in Mabanda Commune, Makamba Province. A group of children, young, adults and old people seem to have nothing to do. Some are sitting near their halls (which are built only by fixed-wood and covered by sheets) while others are cooking food. Those are Burundians who were living in Tanzania but chased away. None of them has come with her/his belongings or properties; they have been separated from their family members, too. “Once arrested, you were transported to your country without making a call or informing your family,” notices Seth Ndayegamiye, the chief representative of those Burundians obliged to leave Tanzania this last week.
Surprisingly enough, people may wonder the big reason why Burundians linked with Tanzanians by legal marriage were separated without any sense of humanity. Saidi Michael, 28 years old and born in Tanzania, is married to a Tanzanian lady and has three children. “I was in the bus when I was arrested by Tanzanian authorities. I don’t know if my wife is aware of my situation,” he wonders.

For him, it was a severe mistreatment to human beings considering what happened. “We have our own families (children and wives) and properties, but we have been compelled to leave and return home without bringing anything,” he adds.
Charlotte Niyongabire, aged 24, married to a Tanzanian has two kids. “My husband was in Dar-es-salaam working there for survival. I was walking in the street when I was arrested by Tanzanians,” she says, with tears in her eyes.

According to these Burundians forced to leave Tanzanian, both countries should discuss, negotiate and solve their problems very soon. “If the administration does not recognize us -because most of us were born in Tanzania- the country may look for other empty places to shelter us,” points out one of them.

Capitoline Bampigiyeko, displaying a document indicating that she is a prohibited immigrant in Tanzania ©Iwacu

Capitoline Bampigiyeko, displaying a document indicating that she is a prohibited immigrant in Tanzania ©Iwacu

Some of them have the Refugees’ Identity Card, “once we showed it to Tanzanian authorities, they tore it up in front of us,” another one states it angrily.

Most of them go on saying that before the chaotic situation, Burundians living in Tanzania have looked for documents allowing them to live in the country legally but they are victims of forced repatriation. “We were mistreated even imprisoned if we refused to leave their country,” shouts out a woman with a kid in her arms.
However, all Burundians who were living in Tanzania weren’t all refugees.

Capitoline Bampigiyeko was living in Tanzania for 38 years and got married after dowry ceremonies and festivities without problems. She was wondering whether the government has the right to destroy families. “I have 11 children. I left them with their father in Tanzania. I don’t know if I should, one day, see them again,” she regrets, showing a document testifying that she is a prohibited immigrant to the United Republic of Tanzania.

“The administration is concerned very much about the situation”

Bernard Butoyi, Mabanda Commune Administrator: “We continue to receive them well in their native country but there are some problems which must be solved urgently by both neighbouring provinces’ authorities.” ©Iwacu

Bernard Butoyi, Mabanda Commune Administrator: “We continue to receive them well in their native country but there are some problems which must be solved urgently by both neighbouring provinces’ authorities.” ©Iwacu

From 6th September up to now, they continue to arrive in Mabanda Commune. 650 people have already received in Karubara site, among them about 230 have joined their home and still a big number of the repatriation victims is continuing to come.

According to Bernard Butoyi, the Administrator of Mabanda Commune, this issue will be discussed with the Makamba Governor and his counterpart from Kigoma in Tanzania. “We continue to receive them well in their native country but there are some problems which must be solved urgently by both neighbouring provinces’ authorities”, indicates Butoyi.
The same view is shared by Vincent Bayubahe, Makamba Province Governor. “This is a serious problem that I must discuss with my counterpart. We should search for a good and urgent outcome after the meeting for soothing the situation”, says Makamba Governor.

It is worth mentioning that when I arrived at the site resident people were trying to help those vulnerable Burundians get food and clothes before reaching their destination.
According to Jérémie Ngendakumana, a Burundi Chair Member of Parliament in East African Legislative Assembly, none is allowed to live in any country without respecting its laws. “Those Burundians should not confuse our legislation to the Tanzania one. If you are married to a Burundian, you get a nationality automatically. It is important to know if the Tanzanian legislation is similar to the Burundian one. If the two legislations are different or similar, people especially authorities should act accordingly.” highlights Ngendakumana.

He goes on saying that the country will continue to welcome them in their respective native country when they are chased away. “The only thing, Burundi EALA MPs are going to do, is just to negotiate with Tanzanian authorities to send them peacefully and in good conditions without leaving their rights behind (children, belongings and properties),” states MP Ngendakumana.

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