MINISTER for Home affairs Kangi Lugola has said the State will not extend repatriation deadline for Burundi refugees back to their country, because an agreement had already been struck with their government.
In a statement he made recently with the BBC Swahili Service in Dar-es-Salaam, the Minister refuted claims by a section of the international and local media that the refugees were being forcefully returned back to their country.
Mr Lugola further said that the plan on the table involved repatriating the refugees in groups with effect from October 1, in an exercise that would be implemented by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
In March last year, the government reached the agreement with the government of Burundi on the actual repatriation dates that according to the Minister because their security was guaranteed.
He said that assurance was made by the government of Burundi that peace was existing in the country, which in a way was invalidating their refugees’ statues in Tanzania.
According to Mr Lugola around 2,000 refugees will be repatriated in the program on a weekly basis until all are returned back, adding: “Preparations are ongoing, despite some challenges where some refugees would wish to extend their unnecessary stay.
‘’According to statistics around 200,000 refugees crossed to Tanzania following political unrest in Burundi, and the number kept on increasing following a tendency by some to crossover just because of economic hardships, which means the latter do not deserve legitimate protection.
”The minister hinted that the government was working with the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees Agency (UNHCR), to secure effective control and safe return of the refugees.
However, he denied accusations by some international human rights activists that the repatriation was against the wish of the UNHCR.
‘’According to the agreement we reached with our long time neighbors, we agreed in terms that the refugees make voluntary decision to go back and we assessed that none was exposed to any danger on return,” added Mr Lugola.
He said that all other noncitizens including the Burundians who wish to extend their stay in Tanzania should follow correct and legitimate immigration procedures on citizenship including acquiring permits to stay.
Burundi plunged into a political turmoil when President Pierre Nkurunzinza made an announcement that he was going to vie for presidency in the third term against the will of some other political actors in the country.
The political crisis escalated in 2015, which led to deaths of many and destruction of property forcing thousands to flee to Tanzania as refugees.