Lack of funds stalls Burundians’ return from Tanzania

From ALLOYCE KIMBUNGA in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
DAR-ES-SALAAM, (CAJ News) – THOUSANDS of Burundian refugees remain in Tanzania as international migration agencies battle to raise funds to enable their return home.
The 12 000 refugees have appealed to the government of Tanzania and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to facilitate their return.
At the end of August, Burundi, Tanzania and UNHCR signed an agreement on the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees in Tanzania, which initiated the return process since stalled by funding challenges.
The appeal would support an estimated 1 400 people including returnees and host community members in the Burundian provinces of Kirundo, Makamba, Muyinga, Rutana and Ruyigi.
At least US$450 000 (R6 million) is needed to transport voluntarily returnees. Further $ 3,2 million is needed for assistance once they arrive in Burundi.
Dr Qasim Sufi, International Organisation of Migration chief of mission to Tanzania, said coordinating transport and reintegration support on this scale inherently had its challenges.
“However, the biggest challenge we and our partners are facing at the moment is a funding shortage,” Sufi said.
He said without international support, they would not be able to help those who had volunteered to go back home.
“We appeal for funds so those who have voluntarily registered return home with safety and dignity and so that they can build a meaningful life there.”
To date, IOM convoys have transported 1 666 refugees back to Burundi.
Some 280 000 refugees fled Burundi into Tanzania after the political crisis and upsurge in violence in 2015.
This emanated from President Pierre Nkurunziza retaining power despite the lapse of his mandate.
Some 80 percent of the refugees are women and children.
CAJ News

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