The government has announced a major plan to repatriate Burundian refugees living at the Mtabila refugee camp in Kasulu district, Rukwa region, warning that those who fail to do so will be regarded as illegal immigrants.
The government’s move follows a visit at the refugee settlement by Home Affairs Minister Shamsi Vuai Nahodha and his counterpart Burundian Minister for National Unity, Human rights and Gender Clotilde Niragira.
“According to international laws governing refugees, there is no need [for the refugees] to continue staying in the country while their countries of origin are in peace and harmony,” he said.
Nahodha explained that upon repatriation, the settlement would serve as National Service camp starting December 1this year.
For her part, Burundian Minister for National Unity, Human Rights and Gender Niragira thanked Tanzania for the support, saying her country was well prepared to receive the refugees.
“Every country would be built by its nationals and not otherwise. So, Burundi would be built by Burundians themselves and not other people,” she said.
Earlier, UNHCR deputy country representative Chansa Kapaya said that they backed the move, adding that the UNHCR would cease supporting the refugees at the settlement by December 31.
Speaking after the meeting, the refugees thanked Tanzanians for hosting them kindly and peacefully, saying they are looking forward to more humanitarian support when they are back home.
Mtabila refugee settlement has more than 37,000 and according to the UNHCR, they will be repatriating about 5.000 refugees beginning next month.