DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) --
Tanzania’s Minister for Home Affairs, Mwigulu Nchemba,
has demanded the UN refugees agency to start repatriating
over 8,000 Burundian refugees who have volunteered to go back
home within seven days.
Speaking at Nduta refugee camp in the east African nation’s
western region of Kigoma, Nchemba said the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) should immediately start
organizing logistics for the safe return of the refugees.
"Failure to repatriate the refugees, I will consult with the
Minister for Defence to release military trucks that will ferry
the refugees to Burundi," said Nchemba.
He said since the refugees volunteered to return to Burundi
last month, nothing was moving ahead.
Late last month, more than 5,000 Burundian refugees staying
in camps in western Tanzania volunteered to return home
following a recent appeal by Tanzanian President John Magufuli
to them to return home and help build their country.
Emmanuel Maganga, the Kigoma Regional Commissioner, said
5,327 Burundian refugees from Nduta, Nyarugusu and Mtendeli
refugee camps had volunteered to go home, adding that 4,935 of
them were from Nduta, 364 from Nyarugusu and 28 from Mtendeli.
Currently Nduta sheltered 124,914 Burundian refugees,
Nyarugusu 75,761 refugees and Mtendeli 49,839 refugees.
Maganga said the voluntary repatriation was continuous but
explained that the Kigoma regional authorities were awaiting a
tripartite meeting between Tanzania, Burundi and UNHCR to
deliberate on the voluntary return of the refugees.
"After that meeting Burundian leaders will be allowed to
visit refugee camps in Tanzania and convince the refugees to
return home," he said.
On July 20, Magufuli called on the Burundian refugees now in
the country to return home voluntarily and help build their
country, asserting that now there was security in the tiny
central African country.
Magufuli’s remarks were in support of an earlier plea by
Burundian president Pierre Nkurunziza, who had called on his
fellow countrymen to go back home and help rebuild their country
because the "war is over."
Magufuli also took a swipe at international humanitarian
bodies for trying to convince refugees not to return to their
home countries due to continued insecurity, just so they can
continue receiving aid from donors.
The president also directed the Ministry of Home Affairs not
to grant citizenship to any more Burundian refugees coming into
In 2014, Tanzania announced that it was in the process of
granting citizenship to 162,000 Burundian refugees who had fled
their country in 1972.
In June, the UN refugee agency said Tanzania remained the
largest host of Burundian refugees.
Tanzania is currently home to more than 315,000 refugees and
asylum-seekers, mainly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic
of the Congo. They are hosted in three refugee camps of
Nyarugusu, Nduta, and Mtendeli, which face severe pressure.
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 Burundi 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
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
"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
"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,"
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
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