The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, in Rwanda has registered 10,000 refugees from Burundi for repatriation, an official told APA Monday.The first group of 3,058 these refugees have so far been repatriated during an exercise which started in August this year, in a joint operation conducted by the UN agency in collaboration with the Rwandan and Burundian governments, it said.
There are about 80,000 Burundian refugees in Rwanda of whom about 60,000 live in Camp Mahama, the largest refugee camp in the east of the country.
For most Burundian refugees who fled to Rwanda in 2015, their expectation was to return home as soon as the situation allowed.
Burundian officials were delighted at the prospect of receiving thousands of refugees from Rwanda, even as the number of applicants is expected to increase.
For its part, the Rwandan government affirms its readiness to facilitate the safe and dignified return of refugees who choose to return home and to protect those still on its territory.
The repatriation follows last month’s petition, which was signed by over 330 Burundian refugees in Mahama camp, appealing to the new Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye for a dignified and lawful return to their home country.
The government of Rwanda said it was committed to the principle of voluntary repatriation as a durable solution for refugees, in accordance with international and domestic laws.
The petition letter also stressed that these refugees fled because of the political crisis and insecurity stemming mainly from former Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a controversial third term.
But, they contended that peace has been restored in their country based on the fact that the third term threat was over, and an elected President is currently leading the country.