The Burundian government has begun a campaign in the East African region to ask the country’s refugees to return voluntarily, despite tension still gulfing the country.
Government officials on began the drive on Tuesday in Uganda, which hosts more than 45,000 Burundian refugees who fled the country following the eruption of violence in April 2015.
“The government has made efforts to restore peace and deal with development now. We want the refugees to return home to contribute to our country’s development,” Pascal Barandagiye, Burundian home affairs and civic education minister, said after a meeting with Ugandan government officials.
Uganda backed the move, saying Burundi is improving and that its people should return home.
“We are sure the situation in Burundi is improving. We encourage the refugees to return home voluntarily. We warn those who might misguide people from not going back,” said Hillary Onek, Uganda’s minister for disaster preparedness, refugees and relief.
Burundian government officials plan to visit the Nakivale Refugee Settlement in the western district of Isingiro where a few refugees will be taken home to study the situation in their home country and report it to other refugees.
The team from Burundi shall also visit neighbouring Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, for the same purpose.
The violence I the country was instigated by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s declaration that he would vie for a controversial third term in office, one that he went on to win in the July poll.
At least 327,000 Burundi refugees have fled to the DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia since violence broke out in capital Bujumbura.