The office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda has come out to clarify on media reports which indicated that government intends to forcefully repatriate Burundian refugees in Nakivale, Isingiro District.
The said reports followed a meeting between Burundian Minister for Home Affairs, Pascal Barandagiye and Uganda’s Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees, Eng. Hillary Onek held on Tuesday February 14th.
In a statement released on February 17th, David Francis Kazungu, the commissioner for refugees in the office of the Prime Minister clarifies that “no Burundian refugee is to be expelled or forcefully repatriated.”
“The government will continue to provide asylum to the Burundian refugees till such a time when it is safe for them to return,” the statement further reads.
While addressing the media on Tuesday morning, Minister Barandagiye said that he was in the country to visit Nakivale camp to persuade the refugees, have their leaders visit Burundi so that they can return and convince their people to return home.
“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,” he said.
He however noted that the process of repatriating the refugees back home will be voluntary to each individual who would be willing to return home.
Kazungu in his statement noted that “return will be according to the provisions of the 1951 UN convention on refugees, 1969 OAU convention governing the specific aspects of refugee problems in Africa and the 2006 refugee Act, all of which state that return should be to safety, dignity and voluntary.”
He assured refugees that they would continue to enjoy asylum in Uganda until the conditions that led to their flight have changed to their satisfaction.
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 that culminated into death of many people .
The situation also led over 200,000 to flee the country to neighbouring countries where they stayed as refugees.
Currently, Uganda has over 45000 Burundian refugees living in Nakivale camp, in Isingiro district.