UNCHR concerned over forced repatriation despite government denial

On October 28th, UNHCR issued a communiqué mounting pressure on Burundian refugees and asylum-seekers to return home – despite assurances from the authorities that the return of refugees will be voluntary and free from intimidation. In addition, no refugee will be forced to return. “We continue to call upon both governments to consider and uphold the refugees’ freedom of choice with regard to their return,” read the statement.

UNHCR worries about Burundian refugees’ repatriation under pressure

Nestor Bimenyimana, Director General in charge of Repatriation and Rehabilitation in the Ministry of Home Affairs said the government welcomes all returnees presented by both the Tanzanian government and the UN refugees Agency.

“There is no pressure. Otherwise, we couldn’t reach such figures”, he said adding that they expect to receive 260 returnees this Tuesday 29, in Muyinga province. Since 2017, about 79,000 refugees have voluntarily returned home thanks to the tripartite agreement. Tanzania currently hosts 206,000 Burundian refugees.

UNHCR is also working with local officials to ensure that the refugees’ return is voluntary and respected the three-party agreement between the Tanzanian and Burundian governments and the UN Refugee Agency. In March 2018, they agreed on the repatriation of 2,000 refugees per week.