2,000 Burundian refugees to be repatriated from Tanzania per week

The tripartite meeting composed of Burundian and Tanzanian governments as well as UNHCR held in Bujumbura from 26 to 28 March concluded that almost 72.000 Burundian refugees will be voluntarily repatriated by 2018.

Burundian refugees in Ruyigi returning from Tanzania©Iwacu

Burundian refugees in Ruyigi returning from Tanzania©Iwacu

“There will be two convoys of 1,000 refugees each from 5 April to 31 December 2018,” reads the joint statement released on 28 March after a tripartite meeting of the Burundian and Tanzanian governments alongside the UNHCR held from 26 to 28 March 2018 in Bujumbura.

According to the statement 72,000 Burundians who are willing to return will be repatriated before the end of 2018. It says priority will be given to 19,148 refugees whose willingness to return to the country has been verified by UNHCR.

Tanzania currently hosts more than 270,000 Burundian refugees, of whom more than 220,000 have fled the country since April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for the controversial presidential term he ultimately won.

The Burundian government does not accept the Burundian refugee figures as presented by UNHCR. “Only physical counting can provide reliable data,” says Pascal Barandagiye, Burundian Minister of Interior.

He also says Tanzanian and Burundian governments will soon launch a phase of sensitization to and promotion of voluntary repatriation. «Burundian refugees have to return home since peace and security reign,” Barandagiye says.