Tanzania: President tells Burundi refugees to ‘go back home’

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Tanzania President John Magufuli has told Burundian refugees in the country to “go back home” as plans to repatriate almost 200,000 refugees come into effect.

In a televised speech on Friday, the Tanzanian leader said the recent repatriation of 600 Burundian refugees is only the beginning. The East African country has agreed a deal with neighbouring Burundi to return all refugees who fled violence sparked by the build-up to Burundi’s 2015 presidential election.

Tanzania president tells Burundi refugees to ‘go home’

Speaking during a televised speech on Friday, President John Magufuli warned Burundian refugees any hopes to stay in the country and gain citizenship will be futile.

“Go back to your home,” he said. “don’t insist on staying in Tanzania as refugees or expect citizenship while Burundi is now stable.”

Despite the claims of John Magufuli and Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza, the UN and various rights groups find that grave human rights violations are still taking place in Burundi. The UN has also insisted that refugees should only be repatriated to Burundi on a voluntary basis but numerous refugees have expressed concerns that they’ll be forced to return by Tanzanian officials.

However, John Magufuli says it’s time for Burundi refugees to return to their home country.

“Tanzania was not created to be a permanent safe haven for people who run from their own countries,” he said on Friday. “Even Jesus ran to Egypt as a refugee … and returned to his land to preach. Why do you want to stay here permanently and not return to your country?”

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.