‘Burundian refugees must go back home’

15Jan 2022
The Guardian
‘Burundian refugees must go back home’

​​​​​​​WEEKS after the closure of Mtendeli refugee camp in Kakonko District, Kigoma Region, the government has appealed to remaining Burundian refugees to return to their country voluntarily as it is now peaceful.

Thobias Andengenye.

Sudi Mwakibasi, the director for refugee services in the Ministry of Home Affairs issued this appeal while briefing Regional Commissioner Thobias Andengenye at the Nyarugusu refugee camp in Kasulu District.

The government encourages all remaining Burundian refugees in Nyarugusu and Nduta to go back to their country as everything has now stabilised, he stated, underlining that as Burundi is now peaceful, “many of the refugees have lost their refugee status, so they should go back home to contribute to the country’s development.”

The reason for the Burundian refugee crisis was political instability, but the situation has now stabilised and there is enough security to enable its citizens to live peacefully, he emphasised.

“There is no reason for them to continue staying in the refugee camps. They should remember that being a refugee is a temporary life, so they have to go back to build their nation,” he said.

On his part, the RC acknowledged that Tanzania had its ups and downs with the Burundian government but both governments are satisfied that the security situation is good and Burundi needs its citizens to back home to resume life peacefully.

Some of the refugees said that what is said by the two governments is just theory and the reality is that Burundi has no permanent security and so they are not in a position to decide whether to remain in Tanzania or repatriate.

Nzeyimana Nyandwi (48) said they have reliable information that the majority of the Burundian returnees do not live in peace. Many of them are taken at night and subjected to brutal acts including looting or killings, he said.

Nyandwi, who has lived in exile for nearly 20 years, insisted that if the government will pressure him to return, he will ask for special protection from the international community as he is not ready to return to Burundi now.

A total of 7,753 refugees from Burundi returned home last year while more than 2000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were granted asylum in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe.

Kigoma Region remains with refugee camps from Burundi and DRC, Nyarugusu and Nduta camp in Kasulu district, listed next for closure Mtendeli camp was officially closed late last year, officials affirmed.