Society

First group of refugees arrives in Burundi from Tanzania

301 Burundians from Nduta refugee camp in Tanzania arrived in the country on 7 September. They were received in Gisuru commune of Ruyigi province. These returnees said they were voluntarily repatriated. Around 12,000 Burundi refugees seek to be repatriated by the end of December 2017.

Some Burundian returnees from Tanzania on Gisuru-Goma border

Some Burundian returnees from Tanzania on Gisuru-Goma border

Ninety-seven families made of 301 Burundian refugees from Nduta refugee camp arrived yesterday on the Burundi-Tanzania border, in Gisuru commune of Ruyigi province. They were received by the members of Burundi Government, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) staff and other humanitarian organizations. Some refugees say they fled the violence that erupted when Burundi president officially announced his candidacy as president in the 2015 elections.

“We fled because we were afraid of the violence that was taking place. Our neighbors were also fleeing. There were widespread rumors that the war was going to start, “said a young female returnee.

Others said they had gone to Tanzania to look for job.

“A friend came to ask me to go with him to Tanzania to look for job. When we arrived there, Tanzanian security officers arrested us. They asked us to choose between going into the refugee camp or prison. We chose to go to the camp. I tried to return to my motherland but in vain,” said a young male returnee.

Returnees said they had been seeking to come back to Burundi since they were living in very poor conditions in Tanzania. “I decided to return because I was afraid our children would die of hunger. We received 15 kg of flour per month, “said a young mother.

Around 12,000 Burundi refugees are to be repatriated from Tanzania by 2017

Térence Ntahiraja, Spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said the return of this first group of refugees is the result of a tripartite meeting held on 30 August between the Burundian and Tanzanian Governments and UNHCR in Dar-Es -Salaam. “The meeting concluded that around 12,000 Burundian refugees will be repatriated by the end of December this year,” said Ntahiraja.

General Emmanuel Maganga, Governor of Kigoma, said 12,000 Burundian refugees have already expressed their willingness to return to Burundi. He said Tanzanian Government will continue to grant asylum to Burundians who do not wish to return to Burundi. He called on the Burundian Government to go and convince Burundians who stay in Tanzania that peace and security reign throughout the country.

“They will remain refugees until they decide to return. The Tanzanian Government will continue to assist all those who still feel fear for their safety once in Burundi,” Kigoma Governor said.

Since Burundi has plunged into the crisis in 2015, over 400,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring countries. More than 250,000 of them fled to Tanzania. The 300 returnees are added to 70 others who recently returned from Lusenda Camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo.