Exiled politicians plead for protection of Burundians refugees

Politicians in exile have submitted a correspondence to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres requesting his intervention in the protection of Burundian refugees sheltered in Tanzanian refugee camps.

Politicians in exile say Burundian refugees will be “forcibly” repatriated

That correspondence signed on September 4 states that the decision made between the Burundian and Tanzanian governments will compromise the security of more than 200,000 refugees who will be “forcibly” repatriated from Tanzania from October 1st.

Those politicians remind that the Burundian and Tanzanian governments as well as the UNHCR signed a tripartite agreement in May 2018 which stipulated that “all refugees wishing to return home will be assisted whereas those who do not wish to return will be protected in their territories of exile”.

Those 9 politicians and signatories of the correspondence say the agreement violates the international law signed by the two countries and the UN conventions on refugees’ right signed in 1951.

They call on the UN Secretary General to impose urgent measures protecting Burundian refugees and insure that no refugee should be forced to return. “If the Tanzanian government doesn’t wish to grant protection to them, the UNHCR must find another country that should receive them,” reads the statement.

On 23 August, Pascal Barandagiye, the Minister of Home Affairs carried out a field visit in Tanzanian refugee camps. He said Burundian refugees can only remain refugees when their reason to flee the country still exists.

“Burundi is peaceful. There is no reason for them to stay there,” he said. In a statement issued on 27 August, the UN refugee Agency has, however, indicated that the conditions in Burundi are not “conducive to promote the refugees’ return”.

Since Burundi plunged into the 2015 crisis, UNHCR reported 342,864 refugees living in the neighboring countries as of 31 July 2019. Tanzania currently hosts 183,707 Burundian refugees.