UN: Burundi refugees in Tanzania living in fear


The United Nations Human Right Council (OHCHR) on Tuesday warned that Burundian refugees in Tanzania are living in fear.

Experts appointed by the UN’s rights body reported violation including arbitrary arrests and forced disappearances, allegedly carried out by Tanzanian police in collaboration with authorities in Burundi. Hundreds of thousands of Burundians fled to neighbouring Tanzania since violence erupted in 2015 but the conflict has since eased and the two countries are engaged in a repatriation campaign to return the refugees to their home country.

UN highlight human rights violations

In a statement released on Tuesday, the expert panel appointed by OHCHR cited the conditions Burundian refugees are facing in Tanzanian settlement camps.

“In addition to the strict encampment policy imposed on them by the Government of Tanzania, Burundian refugees and asylum-seekers now live in fear of being abducted in the middle of the night by Tanzanian security forces and taken to an unknown location or being forcefully returned to Burundi.”

The panel reports that Burundian political opponents are being tracked by authorities with intelligence agents posing as refugees. The agents identify individuals suspected of opposing the ruling party in Burundi and those individuals are later arrested by Tanzanian security forces, the experts said.

In some cases, refugees are abducted subjected to enforced disappearance and torture.

“We are extremely alarmed by reports that some Burundian refugees have been killed after having been abducted by Tanzanian security forces,” the statement says.

Featured image: “UNHCR refugee hut” flickr photo by MONUSCO https://flickr.com/photos/monusco/20284582836 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) 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.