Anxiety over Tanzania refugee repatriation deadline

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The UN refugee agency has asked the Tanzanian and Burundian governments not to repatriate the refugees against their will

Today is the deadline set by the Tanzanian government for the forceful repatriation of 220,000 Burundian refugees.

There are, however, no signs of any imminent repatriation.

“But they [the Tanzania government] have told us that one day we will wake up and find buses waiting to take us,” one of the refugees told BBC.

Tanzania Home Affairs Minister Kangi Lugola told the BBC in August that the exercise would take place “whether they [the refugees] want it or not”.

The refugees, who have been settled in three camps in south-western Tanzania, have expressed fears they will be returned to Burundi despite their opposition.

Some of them say their lives will be in danger if they are forced to return.

UN refugee agency regional spokeswoman Dana Hughes said the agency had asked the Tanzanian and Burundian governments not to repatriate the refugees against their will.

A recent UN report said there had been “serious human rights violations” against opposition members in Burundi ahead of general elections in 2020.

Burundi is keen to show the international community that is has overcome the effects of the 2015 crisis that was sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s push for a controversial third-term in office.

Mr Lugola told the BBC that Tanzania has a right to return the refugees if its assessment finds they could live safely in their home country.

Source: BBC

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