Govt: Ex-Burundi soldiers weeded out of refugee camps

07Feb 2016
The Guardian Reporter
Guardian On Sunday
Govt: Ex-Burundi soldiers weeded out of refugee camps

THE government has dispelled fears about Burundi rebels sneaking into the country to instigate recruitment of guerrilla fighters against the government in Bujumnbura.

In an exclusive telephone interview, the minister for Home Affairs, Charles Kitwanga confirmed the arrival of refugees who previously served as soldiers in the Burundi army but were quickly identified and taken to seclusion for psychological healing or psychotherapy.
“Refuges know each other. They can easily identify former soldiers arriving as civilian refugees. Intelligence services are heightened within and around refugee camps such that sensitive information is quickly shared for appropriate action,” the minister said.
The clarification follows fears aired by an international television channel and then posted in the social media that Burundi was “hunting refugees in Tanzanian camps.”
The message said that refugees from Burundi, who fled violence in their country to neighbouring Tanzania say the Bujumbura authorities were sending armed men into a UN-run refugee camp to hunt down opposition supporters.
It cited remarks from a number of refugees that they were in fear for their lives, worrying that there was inadequate security in the camps in Tanzania to protect them.
"The camp is not safe. We live in fear of Burundian government militia who are in the camp," one of the refugees was quoted as saying, according to the post.
The minister said so far about 40 ex-Burundi soldiers have been identified and others voluntarily declared their status. “We (government of Tanzania) have arranged for their settlement at a designated camp known as Mwisa,” he explained..
“Mwisa structures in Karagwe district in Kagera region were previously used as a prison but the former combatants are not taken there for incarceration but to help them towards psychological healing for three to six months before joining fellow refugees in established camps,” Kitwanga elaborated..
He ruled out the possibility of refugees being ‘hunted’ at the protected camps as expressed by the global media outlet, insisting that the security organs were on alert and any violation of UN refugee regulations would be met with stern security action,
Winding up the parliamentary meeting in Dodoma on Friday, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said Tanzania is currently hosting about 218,895 refugees from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia and a few others from Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
Refugee camps are situated in Katavi, Tabora, Kigoma, Tanga and Kagera regions.