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More Burundian refugees return to home country

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A second batch of 507 Burundian refugees, who were settled in Rwanda since 2015, have been voluntarily repatriated, according to a UN Refugees Agency statement on Friday, 11 September 2020.

This voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees comes after their Congolese peers settled in various refugee camps of Kiziba (West) and Gihembe (North of Rwanda) have also been seeking to be repatriated home. This is despite objection by Rwandan officials over security concerns, which still prevail in their home village.

Departing Burundian refugees were tested for COVID-19 before boarding and sitting, in accordance with Rwanda’s measures in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

While some refugees commended the hospitality they enjoyed while in Rwanda, the majority of them fled the country following the political crisis that gripped Burundi in 2015. When then president, the late Pierre Nkurunziza, decided to seek a third term, protest action arose countrywide as people opposed the move.

However, some of the refugees who decided to remain in Rwanda for security reasons have accused Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye of peddling lies and stoking conflict in the region, instead working towards unifying the country and restoring relations with neighbouring countries.

Representatives of Burundian refugees said that the Burundian leader failed to live up to the promise he made during his swearing-in ceremony in June 2020. He declared that he would ensure that all Burundian refugees who were still in neighbouring countries would return home, in a bid to reconcile the country.

The new accusations follow recent comments made by Burundian Ndayishimiye, who said that his government would not seek to make friends with a country, which he did not name, which harbours his country’s enemies and holds Burundian refugees at ransom. So far, UNHCR has registered 1 800 of nearly 72 000 Burundian refugees in Rwanda who wish to be repatriated.

The  ongoing repatriation exercise comes into force after over 330 Burundian refugees appealed for a dignified and lawful return to their home country, in a petition to the new Burundian president.

-APA

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