By Staff Writer-Tanzania Information Services-MAELEZO
Tanzania, Burundi and United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) are expected to meet tomorrow for a one-day meeting to discuss preparations for the repatriation exercise of the Burundian refugees.
According to sources at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Minister Mwigulu Nchemba will chair the tripartite meeting which will be held at Mwalimu Nyerere International Convention Centre in the city.
The meeting which will be attended by UNHCR country Representative, ministers in charge of refugees of both countries as well as regional commissioners of refugees hosting regions of Kigoma and Kagera and returnees home regions.
The tripartite meeting is expected deliberate on issues pertaining repatriation exercise of Burundian refugees who have voluntarily registered to return home.
The meeting is taking place as per international agreements regarding refugees which oblige parties to agree on how to smoothly conduct repatriation exercise to ensure return in safety and with dignity.
The outcomes of the meeting are expected, on the one hand, to allow Burundi officials to visit refugees’ camps in Tanzania and on the other hand will also provide opportunity for refugees representatives to visit Burundi to satisfy themselves with the actual situation in the country.
Having done that, the international community through UNHCR will take charge to return them to their country of origin but with dignity. Under such arrangement, refugees are supposed to be assisted, for a certain period, with daily life necessities like food and shelter to help them smoothly reintegrate with the home community.
Meanwhile, Kigoma Regional Commissioner Retired Brigadier General Emmanuel Maganga told MAELEZO over the phone that up to 29 August, 2017, more than 11,826 Burundian refugees have already voluntarily registered for repatriation back home.
“we have been encouraging these refugees to voluntarily register for repatriation as the situation back home has come to normal…recently Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba toured refugees camps to drum up President Magufuli’s plea to those refugees to go back home ”said the Reginal Commissioner.
He noted that most of the refugees who have registered for repatriation would like to see the exercise take place soon so as they can be there right during the farming season.
The meeting is taking place amid reports that World Food Program (WFP) has reduced food ration to refugees due to lack of funds.
Responding to the question on WFP report, Kigoma Regional Commissioner said it is ‘a bad news’ to the refugees as well as to the country because such situation can lead to tension between refugees and local communities.
“It is not an ideal situation…when food ration is reduced refugees will have to look for an alternative to bridge the gap which they don’t have as result they will resort to stealing from local communities and there comes the troubles” He emphasized.
Since last week, both local and international media have been carrying stories referring to report of WFP’s decision to reduce food handouts to refugees in the country due to lack of sufficient funds.
In its report, WFP called on both local and international stakeholders to help raise about USD 23 to support refugee services not only in Tanzania but in other African countries.
Recent statistics show that there are about 276,692 Burundi refugees out of total 348,019 refugees in the country. Other refugees are from Democratic Republic of Congo (70,840), Somalia (150) and from other nationalities (337).