Burundi: UNHCR raises concerns over forcibly returned refugees

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The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has repeated its stance that all refugees returning to Burundi must do voluntarily, without any pressure from the governments of Tanzania and Burundi.

In a statement, UNHCR says it has noted an increasing amount of pressure placed on Burundian refugees in Tanzania to return to their home country after an agreement was struck between the two governments. An estimated 225,000 Burundian refugees remain in three camps in Tanzania with almost 75,000 having already been returned since 2017.

UNHCR raises concerns over returning refugees

“Recently, we have noted mounting pressure on Burundian refugees and asylum-seekers to return home – despite assurances from the authorities that all returns will be voluntary and free from intimidation, and no refugee will be forcibly returned,” UNHCR said in a statement released on Monday.

The agency reiterates its point that refugees should only return to Burundi on a voluntary basis, urging both governments to ensure no pressure is placed upon them.

“UNHCR reiterates that the principle of voluntary return requires that repatriation should be based on a freely-exercised choice, devoid of coercion or pressure, and that UNHCR has full access to refugees in order to establish the voluntary nature of any returns.”

Featured image: By UNHCR – http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5518123

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.