Tanzania to send back all Burundian refugees, prompting UNHCR concerns

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Tanzania says it has reached an agreement with Burundi to send back all Burundian refugees to the neighbouring country, starting from October this year.

The East Africa nation claims the repatriation precess with be carried out in collaboration with the United Nations but the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, in a statement released on Tuesday questioned whether the current political situation in Burundi is suitable for refugees to return.

UNHCR questions repatriation pledge

Tanzania’s pledge to return all Burundian refugees to their home country will see 2,000 refugees repatriated every week until there are no more remaining in Tanzania. Currently, there are some 200,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania, according to government figures.

However, UNHCR has said that returns should be voluntary and questioned whether the political situation in Burundi has improved enough for 200,000 refugees to return in such a short space of time.

Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have also questioned the situation in Burundi as the government gears up for a controversial election in 2020, which could see President Pierre Nkurunziza extend his rule even further.

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.