Tue. May 18th, 2021

Close to 500 Burundians repatriated today

A fleet of buses Burundian refugees used to return home (PHOTO/Courtesy)

By George Kalisa

At least 471 Burundian refugees mostly from the Mahama camp in Kirehe District in Rwanda’s Eastern Province have August27 been repatriated following a letter they wrote to the Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye mid this month. Mahama camp has been home to 50,000 out of about 72, 000 Burundians refugees in the country.  

The repatriation of the first batch of Burundian refugees has been facilitated by the Government of Rwanda (GoR) in conjunction and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The fate of the repatriated refugees was sparked by Ex-President Nkurunziza in 2015 when he violated the truce that had established presidential term limits as well as guaranteeing representation of the two ethnic groups – Hutus and Tutsis in the government. 

Despite what was thought to be a promising political arrangement, the poorest central African country, again, slid back into turmoil following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s (RIP) decision to seek for a third term, violating not only the 2000 peace deal that had ushered in viable and short-lived peace in the country after putting an end to the civil war, but also the 2005 Constitution.

Thus, following years of political turmoil, Burundians had welcomed a power-sharing deal in 2000, which they enshrined in the country’s new 2005 Constitution.

Again, Burundi was plunged into insurrection and serious abuses of human rights that included murder of opposition politicians and innocent people. Nkurunziza’s government established different unconstitutional loyal militias such as Imbonerakure to utterly crack down on dissenting views, human rights activists and media. Thousands of Burundians lost their lives as cracks in security widened.

Inevitably, the world saw another exodus of Burundians into neighbouring countries where they today live as refugees.  

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