Pascal Barandagiye, Burundi’s Minister for Home Affairs
The Burundian government has started a campaign to see all nationals who ran out of the country to neighboring countries as refugees return home.
On Monday, Pascal Barandagiye, the country’s Minister for Home Affairs visited Eng. Hillary Onek, the Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees in a bid to see how they can persuade the refugees from Uganda to return home in Bujumbura peacefully.
“We are here to visit Nakivale camp (where Burundi refugees are) persuade them, have their leaders visit Burundi so that they can return and convince their people to return home,” Barandagiye said.
“Together with the Ugandan government and United Nations High Commission for Refugees, we will facilitate their leaders back home to testify that peace has now returned .It is high time our brothers and sisters stopped living as refugees but return home to help in building our nation.”
The Burundian Home Affairs Minister however said that the process of repatriating the refugees back home will be voluntary to each individual who would be willing to return home.
He said that efforts to have total peace in Burundi have been put in place by the Bujumbura government stressing that it is high time their people living as refugees return to help in the recovery of the country.
“The situation is quite different from what is being portrayed by the international media as happening in Burundi. Government has started replacing infrastructure destroyed in the turmoil and everything is moving on well,” Barandagiye said.
Pascal Barandagiye, the country’s Minister for Home Affairs shakes hands with Uganda’s Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Hillary Onek
The Burundi home affairs minister also revealed that a similar process has started in DRC and Tanzania where refugees have started returning home in Bujumbura after the crisis.
The State Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Musa Echweru said that the process to repatriate the Burundian refugees would require a lot of sensitization so as to make it happen adding that it will be gradual and will take a lot of time.
“There will be no time frame for this because it is voluntary,” Echweru said.
The crisis in Burundi broke out in 2015 when president Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term in office leading to widespread protests throughout the country which led to death of many people .
The situation also led over 200,000 to flee the country to neighbouring countries where they stayed as refugees.
Uganda has over 45000 Burundian refugees currently living in Nakivale camp, in Isingiro district.