Government calls for international survey on exact figures of Burundian refugees

Burundi Government says it still wonders why UNHCR still prevents refugees from returning home and continues to publish untrue figures. “Either the number is high or there are people pretending to be Burundian refugees when in fact they are not. Thus, there must be a hidden interest behind all this”, says Philippe Nzobonariba, Government spokesperson, in a press conference.

Philippe Nzobonariba: “There must be a hidden interest behind the exaggerated figures of Burundian refugees by UNHCR”

Philippe Nzobonariba: “There must be a hidden interest behind the exaggerated figures of Burundian refugees by UNHCR”

He says Burundian refugees have become real hostages. “The figure of 400,000 Burundian refugees given by the UN Refugee Agency is fanciful. Hundreds of Burundian refugees have already returned home”, he says.

Last month, Burundi and Tanzania Governments alongside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) held a tripartite meeting in Dar-Es Salaam. The latter led to the conclusion that at least 12,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania will be voluntarily repatriated by the end of December this year.

The spokesperson for the government says it will now be necessary to carry out a joint identification of Burundian refugees in order to converge on the figures to be used by UNHCR. “An international audit of UNHCR on refugees is an important activity that should be carried out as the funds that are given depend on the number of refugees”, he says.

The International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) has recently published a new report about the causes of exile for Burundian asylum-seekers. The research it conducted showed that Burundians continue to leave their country because of the ongoing threats and abuses by members of the defense and security forces and the ruling party youth-Imbonerakure as well as the killings and enforced disappearances of their family members. In June, IRRI interviewed 30 Burundians who had just arrived in Uganda.

Since the political crisis erupted in April 2015, almost 421,000 Burundians have left their country according to the UN refugees Agency.

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