Burundi: Repatriation of a first group of refugees from Mahama Camp (in Rwanda) to a country of uncertain security.

Burundi: Repatriation of a first group of refugees from Mahama Camp (in Rwanda) to a country of uncertain security.
The first group of 471 Burundians who had just spent, for the most part, 5 years in the Mahama refugee camp in Rwanda have boarded the buses this August 27, 2020, direction to Burundi, their native land. According to the UNHCR, more than 1,800 have already expressed their willingness to return to their country. They will be repatriated gradually at the rate of the reception capacity of the Burundian government (as a reminder, it was planned to repatriate 600 Burundians in this first group, but the government of Burundi has indicated that the reception capacity of the transit site is not exceed 500 people). It is a repatriation done in perfect order, with barrier measures for protection against Covid 19: each refugee, before boarding, must have tested negative for Covid19. On their arrival at the Songore site in Ngozi, they should normally spend 4 days there to undergo patriotic training before returning to their respective hills, but the government of Gitega was forced to give in to the demands of the UNHCR which evoked a logistical problem. They will therefore have to spend only one night in the transit site, and will be taken to their communities. Ndakugarika has not totally disarmed; these refugees from Rwanda must undergo a patriotic training; this time, it will be provided by the local administration (understand by that a training given by the imbonerakure) Recall that a group of 5 refugees had, on July 26, 2020, sent a letter to President Ndayishimiye, asking him to do everything to repatriate the refugees from Mahama. An illegal procedure because it is not at all the responsibility of the president to repatriate the refugees, but of the UNHCR, in collaboration with the host country. To the letter was attached a list of 331 people that this group presented as people who had asked to return; but it turned out that this group was being manipulated by the government of Gitega. The majority of those on the list had not requested it, even dead and buried people were on the list. They had to be reminded of the normal procedure: Register individually with UNHCR and the Rwandan government said always be ready to facilitate their return home. Yet the response to this good intention from Rwanda was name calling and false accusations from the Gitega government. Pierre Nkurikiye, spokesperson for Ndakugarika, super minister of public security, interior and community development, reacted first even though the letter was not addressed to his boss. He dared to open his mouth just to say that the Rwandan government is taking in hostage the Burundian refugees who want to return. Evariste Ndayishimiye preferred to move to Busoni in Kirundo, very close to Rwanda (an advice given to him by his fetishists), to qualify this neighbouring and brother country «  of hypocrite, he who harbours enemies of the Burundians and who takes hostage Burundians who wish to return to their country  ». These are Evariste Ndayishimiye’s real words. However, this government of Ndayishimiye, Bunyoni and Ndirakobuca had just refused to receive 136 Burundians stranded in Rwanda because of covid19 when they had officially entered Rwanda for medical care or other activities, others were pupils or students. A government that wants one thing and its opposite.
Why this behaviour? Why this cacophony in the management of the return of refugees from different countries?
The repatriation of refugees is normally voluntary. It is when a refugee is convinced that his safety is guaranteed in a country he has fled that he decides to return himself. However, this is not the case for the Burundian refugees who are in Tanzania, in DR Congo. The government of Gitega had just tried to sow the same disorder in Rwanda. With the start of this voluntary repatriation, his plan fell through.
Indeed, the power of Ndayishimiye knows full well that he is not right. It is a power resulting from the theft of elections; he knows very well that the people rejected it with a sanction vote because they wanted change. ; and therefore this people do not love him. It is for this reason that this military clique is ruling the country, not by law, but by force of arms. And he tries to cover it all up by calling himself « mvyeyi-parent government », « nkozi-worker government » when it hadn’t even started to function. They forget that there is no hiding insecurity. At least 49 people were killed in Burundi in July 2020, some raped and beheaded, others burned in their homes, others with their throats cut (these people are well documented, names and places of origin known). And they continue to sing that there is total security in the country. Security is not declared, security is experienced. This is what prompts Ndayishimiye and his government to use all possible manoeuvres, even the most dishonest, to forcibly repatriate all the Burundian refugees. The return of the refugees is a sign, according to their understanding, in the eyes of the international community that peace has returned, and which can trigger the resumption of cooperation
The refugees who were in Tanzania lived in total ordeal. In collaboration with the Tanzanian government, the power of Gitega has done everything to mistreat them so that they are forced to return (there are those who choose to go and die in their country instead of dying in the camps).
The most serious case has just been brought to light by the Association of Refugee Defenders in the Great Lakes Region. Here, 6 Burundian refugees kidnapped by the Tanzanian police in the Mutenderi refugee camp in Tanzania on the night of July 22 to 23, 2020, find themselves in the prisons of Muramvya and Bubanza in Burundi. A first in the world. Others have simply been tortured and killed. Yet the UNHCR kept reassuring their families that these people are being questioned by the Tanzanian police and that they will be returned to their families. And now they are already in the prisons of Burundi in a sorry state because they have been tortured. This file deserves a rigorous follow-up on the part of all the regional and international organizations in charge of the rights of the refugees so that the government of Burundi, of Tanzania and the UNHCR are put in front of their responsibilities and answer for these acts contrary to the international low of refugee .
The refugees who are in the DRC have just spent more than 5 months without any assistance. They are also forced to return so as not to die of hunger in the camps because they too are deprived of any outings to find food and feed their children. Pretext: they can be enlisted within the armed groups which abound in this country. Gitega’s government therefore has control over the refugees in the territories of the two countries; they will come back willingly in spite of it because they have no more choice.
Rwanda was the country where the rights of refugees had been respected until now. By going through the spies sent there, the Ndayishimiye government tried to sow disorder in this camp to destabilize the refugees so that they too decide, despite themselves, to return. Despite the procedural errors made by a group of 5 people who signed the letter sent to Evariste Ndayishimiye, despite a criminal case that weighed on one among the 5 signatories of the letter, despite the attempts to revolt the rest of the refugees of whom they are guilty, Rwanda decided to let them return. We will come back tomorrow to the case of the 5 signatories of the letter.
URN HITAMWONEZA welcomes the fact that Burundians who request it of their own accord are returning to their homeland; but regrets the manoeuvres of the government of Gitega to want to force back those who still feel that their security is not yet guaranteed. We ask that UNHCR continue to assist all those who still feel a threat in Burundi and we will continue to cry out for all those who violate international refugee law to be brought to justice to answer for their actions.

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