20 September 2017

Burundian Refugees Continue to Return

Around five hundred Burundians from Nduta refugee camp in Tanzania have been received by Burundi Government this 19 September. They will spend 48 hours in Gitara transit center in Mabanda Commune of Makamba province before going back to their native localities.

One hundred and thirty seven families made of 503 Burundian refugees from Nduta refugee camp arrived last Tuesday, 19th September on the border between Burundi and Tanzania exactly in Mabanda commune of Makamba southern province.

The majority of them were children and women. They were received by members of Burundi Government, UNHCR staff and other humanitarian organizations.

Some of them say they fled the violence that erupted when Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza officially announced he would run for a third term in April 2015. Others say they fled due to poverty and famine that were plaguing their families. "I fled with my three brothers during the 2015 electoral period. There were widespread rumors that violence would erupt at any time", says Juvénal Havyarimana before adding that he and his family were living in dire straits in Nduta refugee camp. "As were given insufficient quantity of food, we decided to register among those who wished to return home," he says.

Divine Kabura, another returnee and mother of six children, says she has decided to return because she is tired of leading a refugee life. "We hardly receive food. Furthermore, the quantity we were used to receiving reduced day after day. Six families could share two buckets of food a month," she says. The returnees say it will not be easy for them to start a new life. They exhort the government to continue to help and protect them.

Pascal Barandagiye, Minister of Home Affairs, who welcomed them on behalf of Burundi Government, says the returnees will spend 48 hours in Gitara transit center, in Mabanda Commune of Makamba southern province before going back to their places of origin.

He urges them to live in harmony with other residents. "Your contribution to peace building is very important for the development of the country. Continue with your daily activities as it was in the past and collaborate with the local administration to avoid any form of altercation," he says.

Abel Mbilinyi, UNHCR representative in Burundi, says the agency will form a protection team to ensure the follow-up of returnees in their native localities. "We will make sure they have integrated with the local community," he says.

All the 503 Burundians who returned from Tanzania are natives of Rutana Province. They have received kits made of food and non-food assistance with an amount of money equivalent to 40$ for each adult and 20$ for each child.

Around 12,000 Burundi refugees are expected to be repatriated by the end of December 2017. At least 1300 Burundians have already arrived in Burundi from Tanzania since the beginning of September 2017.


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