Burundi Refugees Not Going Back - Minister Onek

1578 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Burundian Nationals who sought refuge in Uganda will not go back any time soon despite attempts by their government to persuade them to return. Theres been chaos in Burundi since April 2015 when President Nkurunziza decided to run for a controversial third term of office in violation of the constitution and the 2000 Arusha Agreement. The agreement was signed between different warring parties and the government to end a decade-long civil war. Since 2015, more than 500 people have been killed and about 400,000 have fled to neighbouring countries.

Burundian Nationals who sought refuge in Uganda will not go back any time soon despite attempts by their government to persuade them to return.

In February, a delegation from Burundi was in Kampala to persuade their nationals to return home claiming the country is now peaceful.

The team was led by the Burundian Minister for Interior and Patriotic Education Pascal Barandagiye who said the refugees would return voluntarily.

Now Uganda's Minister for Relief Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Hillary Onek, says the refugees are not going back since Burundi is still unstable. 

In an interview with URN, Onek said although the Government had initiated plans to repatriate the refugees, they will go at will when the situation gets better.

Onek stated that Burundi was only playing diplomacy to shape the image of the country, but the refugees cannot yet go back.

Bornwell Kantande, the UN refugee agency--UNHCR Resident Coordinator states that refugees can only go back when they are assured of their safety and security. He says when the time comes, they will facilitate and monitor the return of the refugees.

There's been chaos in Burundi since April 2015 when President Nkurunziza decided to run for a controversial third term of office in violation of the constitution and the 2000 Arusha Agreement. The agreement was signed between different warring parties and the government to end a decade-long civil war. Since 2015, more than 500 people have been killed and about 400,000 have fled to neighbouring countries.

According to the UNHCR, more than 384,000 Burundian refugees have fled to Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo since the outbreak of violence in Bujumbura.

Uganda, presently hosts 45,000 Burundian refugees while another 32,650 are living in the DRC. Rwanda is reported to be hosting up to 84,866 refugees. 

The refugees in Uganda are mainly hosted at Nakivale refugee resettlement camp in Isingiro district. 

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.