Burundi: President calls on refugees to return home
Burundi President Pierre Nkuruniza is calling on people who fled the country during political unrest since 2015 to return home.
Nkuruniza extended his ongoing invitation to Burundi refugees on Thursday, during a visit to Tanzania – his first overseas trip since violence broke out in April 2015. Tanzania currently hosts more than 240,000 Burundians, mostly refugees living in camps along the two countries’ shared border.
“Today I want to tell Tanzanians and Burundians that Burundi is now peaceful and I am inviting all Burundi refugees to return home,” Nkurunziza announced during his visit.
Tanzania President John Magufuli reiterated Nkurunziza’s appeal, revealing he has asked Tanzania’s interior minister to stop granting citizenship to Burundians. Magufuli says he is not kicking anyone out, but encouraging Burundians to participate in building their country instead of looking to settle in Tanzania.
This isn’t the first time Pierre Nkurunziza has called on Burundi refugees to return home, but it is the first time he’s invited them during a foreign visit.
However, opposition members are playing down the significance of his Tanzania trip and the invitation to Burundi refugees.
Opposition members call out Nkurunziza
“We learned that President Pierre Nkurunziza crossed the border to an adjacent town in Tanzania. First of all, it is not far from Burundi and secondly, the trip does not imply that his fears of being toppled are over,” said opposition leader, Leonard Nyangoma, when speaking to VOA.
He also claims the president wouldn’t need to appeal to Burundi refugees if peace had actually been restored in their home country.
“You don’t invite refugees to return home because when and if peace finally returns to Burundi, the flow of refugees voluntarily returning home will be so huge, the Interior Ministry will have a hard time accommodating them all,” he told VOA.
Featured image: By Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org)/Eric Miller, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com) – Pierre Nkurunziza – World Economic Forum on Africa 2008, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5685472