Burundian refugees in Tanzania worried about being forcibly repatriated

Burundian refugees from Mutenderi, Nduta and Nyarugusi refugee camps in Tanzania are gripped with fear of being forcibly repatriated. They accuse Tanzanian authorities of intimidating and forcing them to return to Burundi. Some refugees, however, says that they are not ready to return to Burundi.

Burundian refugees voluntarily repatriated from Tanzania

Burundian refugees voluntarily repatriated from Tanzania

Last week, Emmanuel Maganga, governor of Kigoma led a campaign in various refugees’ camps to convince Burundian refugees to return to their country arguing that peace and security reign there.

“We are afraid that they will expel us from their country, at any moment,” says N.F a Burundian refugee living in Nduta refugee camp who preferred to remain anonymous for security reasons. “It is clear that Tanzania supports Burundi government plan to repatriate the refugees by force,” he says.

Some Burundian refugees, however, say that they are not ready to return to Burundi. “We fled the ruling CNDD-FDD youths and security agents who persecuted us. We fear that if we return there they will kill us,” says D.H another refugee. He deplores the fact that last week, Tanzanian government banned them from conducting income-generating activities inside refugee camps. He considers that decision as a way of forcing them to return to Burundi saying that “such activities enabled them to face the problems of insufficient food aid,” says another refugee.

In a statement released on July 30, the opposition platform CNARED expressed its concern over the Tanzanian government’s intimidation against Burundian refugees. According to Jean Minani, chairman of CNARED, Burundian refugees are subjected to intimidation; harassment and arbitrary imprisonment by local Tanzanian administrative authorities who force them to get registered on the so-called voluntary repatriation list.

He believes that the security situation in Burundi is not good enough for refugees to return. “Human rights violations, targeted killings and arbitrary arrests continue,” Minani says.

For CNDD party, it is not yet time for refugees to return to Burundi, arguing that the climate of insecurity and human rights violation persist. “The political, security and human rights situation has not improved in Burundi. It tends to deteriorate in the run-up to the 2020 general election,” says Leonard Nyangoma, chairman of CNDD in a statement released on July 30.

The chairman of CNARED calls on the Tanzanian government to urge the local administrative authorities to respect refugees’ rights. Tanzania shelters more than 240,000 Burundian refugees who fled the crisis that erupted in 2015 in the country.