UNHCR ofers to lead Rwanda, Bu­rundi di­a­logue on refugees

The East African - - NEWS - By MOSES HAVYARIMANA Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent

THE UNITED Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has of­fered to lead di­a­logue be­tween Rwanda and Bu­rundi on the refugee sit­u­a­tion.

When he vis­ited Bu­rundi Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza this week, UNHCR chief Fil­lipo Grandi dis­cussed is­sues re­lated to refugees fol­low­ing a diplo­matic row be­tween Ki­gali and Bu­jum­bura over the same.

Mr Grandi said that the UN would con­tinue sup­port­ing the Bu­run­dian refugees who vol­un­tar­ily want to re­turn home.

“We will work to es­tab­lish a bet­ter frame­work for dis­cus­sion be­tween Rwanda and Bu­rundi. I spoke to Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame and I am con­fi­dent that we will have a more con­struc­tive en­gage­ment,” the UNHCR chief said.

Last week Bu­rundi ac­cused Ki­gali of hold­ing Bu­run­dian refugees hostage and mil­i­tar­ily train­ing them to oust pres­i­dent Nku­run­z­iza’s gov­ern­ment, af­ter more than 2,000 Bu­run­dian refugees were repa­tri­ated from Rwanda. Ki­gali dis­missed the al­le­ga­tions.

Tan­za­nia, Bu­rundi and the UNHCR agreed to start a vol­un­tary repa­tri­a­tion ex­er­cise of Bu­run­dian refugees from Tan­za­nia. Ac­cord­ing to the UNHCR, al­most 20,000 refugees, with in­ten­tions of re­turn­ing home have been reg­is­tered. About 72,000 Bu­run­dian refugees have al­ready ex­pressed their wish to re­turn to Bu­rundi.

De­spite the 2015 cri­sis that saw thou­sands of Bu­run­di­ans flee for neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, Bu­rundi con­tin­ued to host Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo refugees. Cur­rently Bu­rundi hosts at least 73,000 refugees from DRC. The UNHCR chief Grandi urged the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to sup­port not only the refugees but also the host coun­tries.

In a joint a joint com­mu­nique of the 20th meet­ing of the tri­par­tite com­mis­sion for the vol­un­tary repa­tri­a­tion of Bu­run­dian refugees in Tan­za­nia, a plan of ac­tion was de­vel­oped with the over­all plan­ning fig­ure for 2018 that has al­ready started.

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