Burundi to receive 15,000 repatriated refugees from Tanzania: official

Xinhua News Agency


BUJUMBURA, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- Burundi is to receive over 15,000 refugees from Tanzania this week as part of the ongoing repatriation of Burundian refugees who had fled the country's 2015 crisis, a senior government official said Monday.

A tripartite meeting held on Aug. 31 in Tanzania, which brought together representatives from Burundi, Tanzania and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) decided that the first batch of Burundian refugees from Tanzania should arrive in Burundi on Thursday this week, said Terence Ntahiraja, the assistant to the Burundian home affairs and civic education minister.

According to him, the first convoy will be made up of some 15,000 returnees and will enter Burundi from Tanzania via a border post in the Burundian southern province of Makamba.

"They will be welcomed and then transferred to their homes as their lands and belongings were protected," said Ntahiraja.

UNHCR will provide returnees with food and non-food items that they will use for three months during their reinsertion in the community, according to him.

Ntahiraja said the government hopes that the others will be motivated to come back home after the first batch of returnees is successfully welcomed.

Tanzania remained the largest host of Burundian refugees, according to UNHCR.

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 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 crisis.