Burundian refugees urged to return home

Sunday October 22 2017

Mahama, the largest refugee camp in Rwanda. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Mahama, the largest refugee camp in Rwanda. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

By EDMUND KAGIRE
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The stabilising security situation in Burundi should pave the way for the repatriation of Burundian refugees in neighbouring countries who fled the 2015 political instability that followed President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term.

The 7th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, which took place last week in Brazzaville, resolved that countries hosting refugees begin to facilitate their return.

More refugees

According to the United Nation High Commission for Refugees, there are 419,967 Burundian refugees and asylum seekers who have fled since April 2015 and the number is expected to go over 534,000 by the end of 2017.

Despite numbers showing more refugees arriving in neighbouring countries, regional leaders say the situation in the country is now stable.

The Summit “noted the improving security situation in Burundi, and urged countries hosting Burundian refugees to facilitate the return of those willing,” the communiqué from the meeting reads.

“As for those not willing to return, we urge that they be settled far away from the common border as per the 1951 Refugee Convention,” the Summit said.

However, Burundian refugees, mainly in Tanzania, Rwanda and DRC Congo, have been reluctant to return home, citing threats to their lives.