Burundi: 590 refugees return from Tanzania

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Almost 600 Burundian refugees have returned to the country from neighbouring Tanzania as part of a major repatriation campaign.

The United Nations confirmed the arrival of the refugees on Thursday but once again raised concerns that the repatriation drive could force refugees to return to Burundi against their will.

Burundi refugees return home

In August, Burundi and Tanzania agreed on a plan to start repatriating 200,000 refugees that fled violence in Burundi following a security crisis ahead of presidential elections in 2015.

Now, ahead of next year’s 2020 presidential election, Burundi is calling upon refugees to return to the country and help build its future.

However, concerns remain that refugees could be forced to return to a volatile Burundi against their will. With 590 refugees returning late on Thursday, Tanzania and the United Nations insisted all of those returning home had done so voluntarily.

The UN confirmed that it worked in collaboration with the governments of both countries to organise flights for the 590 refugees but urged both countries to ensure the rights of refugees are respected throughout the repatriation campaign.

“We urge the governments of Tanzania and Burundi to respect their commitments to uphold international obligations and ensure that any refugee returns remain voluntary and that no refugee or asylum seeker is returned to Burundi against their will,” it said in a statement.

Featured image: “Burundi crisis: fleeing the violence” flickr photo by EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid https://flickr.com/photos/eu_echo/29969041886 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.