Deportation of Burundian refugees from Tanzania has raised concerns that lack of consent to return by refugees themselves could amount to violation of regional and International treaties.
Many Burundian refugees and asylum-seekers in Tanzania have cited persecution and fear of human rights abuses as the reason for their entry into Tanzania. However, they are fears that the refuges are put at risk by putting pressure on them to return back to Burundi.
Burundian refugees in Tanzania, contacted by the great lakes eye have indicated that those who don’t want to return to Burundi found themselves on the lists of those to be repatriated. According to Burundian refugees, those that felt safe had already gone home, while people continue to leave Burundi because of problems they face there.
According to available figures, Tanzania presently hosts about 40000 refugees from Burundi and the current repatriation process will reach about 20000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania, distributed among the Nduta, Mtendeli and Nyarugusu camps.
The issue has raised concerns and fears that the governments may force the refugees to return home to a dangerous environment where they face political persecution.
It is evident that security services in Burundi carry out summary executions, rapes, abductions and intimidation of suspected political opponents. Burundi is at risk of a new wave of atrocities as it approaches a 2020 election with an unresolved political crisis and a president increasingly portrayed as a “divine” ruler.
The ever-decreasing likelihood of a free and fair presidential election is in growing conflict with a popular desire for change in Burundi. Tension is rising and prospects for free and fair polls are slimmer by the day.