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Burundi urges facilitator to identify “real” refugees   

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- Burundi has urged former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, the facilitator of the Burundi dialogue, to visit refugee camps to identify “real” refugees, the Burundian justice minister said Monday.

In an interview with Xinhua on Monday, Aimee Laurentine Kanyana urged Mkapa, the facilitator for the East African Community (EAC)-led Inter-Burundi Dialogue, to check whether those refugees had fled Burundi fearing for their personal security.

Mkapa and other facilitation delegates visited Burundi from August 14 to 19. The main objective of the visit to Burundi was aimed at requesting Burundian authorities to promote “inclusiveness” in the Inter-Burundi Dialogue, which aims to find a solution to the political crisis in Burundi.

“Burundi is now enjoying peace and security. We don’t understand why Burundian refugees don’t return home. That’s why we requested the delegates from the facilitator to visit refugee camps hosting Burundian people to check reasons that push them to remain in refugee camps,” said the minister during the interview.

“Some people flee problems in their families, others flee because they have robbed banks or because they are taken big bank loans that they are unable to pay back; others flee because they have committed big offences and others flee because they will be transferred to Europe or to America,” Kanyana said.

According to her, the facilitation in the dialogue should visit those refugees and talk to the UN Refugee Agency in order to “review” the profile of refugees.

“At the internal level of the dialogue, there was no discrimination. Even at the external level of the dialogue held under the auspices of the East African Community (EAC) facilitation team, there is no discrimination either,” Kanyana said.

She added that the Burundian government will “never accept” to sit on the same table with people who attempted to overthrow the east African country’s democratic institutions on May 13, 2015, and people who “organized the insurgency” in April 2015.

“We have called for the repatriation of the external dialogue because there is no reason of holding talks out of Burundi,” Kanyana said.

Launched in December 2015, the Inter-Burundi Dialogue talks at the external level under the East African Community (EAC) auspices, with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni as the mediator, have made no concrete progress.

In January 2016, the Burundian government boycotted talks in Arusha, Tanzania, arguing that it could not sit on the same table with what it called “non-peaceful” stakeholders.

In March that year, the EAC heads of state summit appointed the former Tanzanian president as the facilitator of the dialogue.

Mkapa organized separate consultations with stakeholders in the dialogue, but real negotiations have not yet taken place.

Burundi plunged into a crisis since April 2015 when Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run his controversial third term bid.

His candidature, which was opposed by the opposition and civil society groups, resulted in a wave of protests, violence and even a failed coup on May 13, 2015.

Over 410,000 people have fled to other countries mostly Tanzania, Rwanda, DR Congo and Uganda since the outbreak of the crisis.



Burundian police intercept 24 women over human trafficking

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- Twenty-four women including 18 victims of human trafficking and six suspected traffickers were Wednesday intercepted in Kayanza town, 95km north of the Burundian capital Bujumbura with their destination to Oman, the police spokesman said Thursday.

“Yesterday we intercepted two buses in the Kayanza town that had on board 18 women who were victims of human trafficking. Other six women who are seemingly traffickers of those 18 women and who were aboard of those two buses were also arrested,” Burundian Police Spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said.

According to him, those 24 women were going to Uganda with the final destination to Oman where the victims of human trafficking would be taken.

Human trafficking is a serious issue in Burundi, according to human rights groups. Female victims of human trafficking do sex work when they arrive at their destinations, according to the Burundian police.

In April, the Burundian Senate called for creating a commission that will work with destination countries mainly Arab countries to avoid human trafficking.

By mid June 2016, the Burundian police arrested seven persons over human trafficking accusations and identified 11 companies involved in human trafficking in the east African nation.


Burundi hosts forum to address African youth’s challenges

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- Some 300 delegates from at least 40 African countries attended a five-day pan African youth forum that kicked off Monday with the aim of addressing youth’s challenges on the African continent.

At the launch of the forum, Burundian Youth, Sports and Culture Minister Jean Bosco Hitimana said the youth in Africa in general and in Burundi in particular face challenges including unemployment and political manipulation.

He said between 13 and 17 percent of Burundian young people who complete their secondary education do not get jobs.

“Young people should know that their life lies in their hands. Therefore they should think of creating their jobs,” Hitimana said.

According to him, on request of the Burundian youth, the Burundian government last year set up a 10-year national youth’s policy to address the youth’s challenges.

Hitimana indicated that the policy notably provides the creation, as of next year, of a youth’s bank that will finance projects of the Burundian youth.

“The project of launching the youth’s bank during the first three months of next year is far ahead in our ministry (for the youth). Its business plan has already been developed,” Hitimana emphasized.

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