from ALLOYCE KIMBUNGA in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
DAR-ES-SALAAM, (CAJ News) – HUMAN rights groups have petitioned African leaders to dissuade Tanzania from pressuring thousands of refugees and asylum seekers to return to Burundi.
Human rights groups accuse Tanzania of unduly influencing the 163 000 individuals into returning in spite of the ongoing serious human rights violations against real or perceived opposition supporters, including returning refugees, in Burundi.
Some 15 local and international human rights groups have urged the leaders, ahead of the African Union (AU) High-Level Dialogue on displacement taking place in Uganda until Friday (tomorrow), to stop Tanzania pressuring refugees and asylum seekers.
“Representatives of African regional organisations and governments should seize on the opportunity that the high-level dialogue offers to make the AU’s theme of the year a tangible reality for Burundian refugees,” the rights groups stated.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees fled Burundi after a political crisis erupted in 2015. The crisis led to political violence and serious human rights violations, including murder and kidnappings.
There has been a recurrence of these infringements ahead of the general elections set for 2020 but Tanzanian authorities insist the refugees must return.
In October, Tanzania President, John Magufuli, said the Burundians should “go home.”
An August agreement between Burundi and Tanzania also states that the refugees “are to return to their country of origin whether voluntarily or not” by December 31.
To date, around 80 000 individuals have returned under the so-called voluntary repatriation.
– CAJ News