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Govt praised for orderly repatriation of refugees

17th December 2012
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Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi

Following the closure of Mtabila refugees’ camp in North West Tanzania which saw the return of 35,357 refugees to their mother land, Tanzania remains with 1,540 Burundian refugees who live in Nyarugusu Camp. The orderly return was implemented by the two governments of Tanzania and Burundi in collaboration with UNHCR.

“In accordance with the figures of the Ministry, only 1,540 citizens from Burundi remain in the country. The remained now live at Nyarugusu camp which holds Democratic Republic of Congo refugees.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam yesterday the Minister for Home Affairs Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi, said the exercise of closing the Mtabila refugees’ camp in Kigoma region succeeded due to the decision of the government to follow the long procedure which puts into consideration International rules and procedures regarding refugees’ issues.

He said the return of the refugees to their country of origin has completed the long journey of working on accomplishing the exercise of returning the refugees who run from their country following the crisis of October 1993; up to 2002 the Burundian refugees were approximately 550,000.

Dr Nchimbi said the 1,540 Burundian refugees previously lived at Mtabila camp, but due to reasons known to them, shifted to Nyarugusu camp without the government’s consent.

They are among the 2000 people from Burundi who do not qualify for refugee status anymore. The government has started the procedures for repatriating them to Burundi, before the end of the year.

He further said after the closure, the former refugees’ buildings will be used by the National Service (JKT) for agricultural activities.

Mtabila is the ninth refugee camp to be closed. Others are Karago, Mtendeli, Kanembwa, Nduta and Mkugwa in Kibondo District, Kigoma Region.

Other camps were Muyovosi (Kasulu District, Kigoma), Kitali (Biharamulo District, Kagera Region) and Lukole 'A' and Lukole 'B' (Ngara District, Kagera Region)

The process of returning the Burundian refugees started in 2002.

UNHCR Acting Representative in Tanzania Chansa Kapaya congratulated the government for its commitment to adhere to the principles of order, safety and dignity in serving the lives of the returnees.

To assist them in starting new lives in Burundi, the Burundian government together with refugee agency and its partners in Burundi will be present throughout the reintegration process as UNHCR Representative in Burundi Catherine Huck declared.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN