A group of Burgundian refugees in Rwanda have written letter to Burundi President Gen Evariste Ndayishimiye asking to be repatriated.
Numbering 324, all from the Mahama refugee camp in Kirehe district, near the Tanzania border, the refugees want governments of Rwanda, Burundi and the UN refugee agency to work out a plan for them to go back as soon as possible.
It is the first such action since 2014, when the nearly 80,000 refugees in Rwanda, began arriving. In total, more than 420,000 Burundian refugees are in neighboring countries.
Tanzania has asked those on its territory to go home, and threatened to forcefully push them out. Tanzania, since election of current President in June, says Burundi is safe to return to.
Indeed, the group in Rwanda which wrote to the Burundian leader, seem to agree with the Tanzania position. In their lengthy letter, written in French, the refugees say despite alarmist media campaign, Burundi is peaceful and they want to go home.
The letter was written on July 26, and Rwanda’s emergency management ministry, which handles refugee affairs is said to have received copy of the letter. It also has signatures of the refugees.
Last week, Burundi President Ndayishimiye convened a high-level government retreat, and top on the agenda was working out urgent plan to repatriate all refugees.
According to UNHCR, Burundian refugees are as follows: Tanzania (164,873), DR Congo (103,690), Rwanda (72,007), Uganda (48,275), Kenya (13,800), Mozambique (7,800), Malawi (8,300), South Africa (9,200) and Zambia (6,000).