Uganda to repatriate 13,000 Burundian refugees after treaty

Uganda and Burundi have signed a legal framework that will facilitate the return of 13,000 Burundian refugees currently living in Kampala and southern-western Uganda.
Nirangira (L) and Mallinga at the signing. The New Times/  G. Muamira.
Nirangira (L) and Mallinga at the signing. The New Times/ G. Muamira.

Uganda and Burundi have signed a legal framework that will facilitate the return of 13,000 Burundian refugees currently living in Kampala and southern-western Uganda.

The agreement was signed by Dr Stephen Mallinga, Uganda’s Disaster Preparedness And Refugee Affairs minister, and Clotilde Nirangira, the Burundian Minister for National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender.

Dr Mallinga called on African politicians to avoid a situation that leads to refugees, and added that if some of the Burundian refugees are not willing to return home, the relevant laws will offer them protection.

Burundian refugees have lived in Uganda since the early 1970s, while there are also 1,796 asylum seekers pending refugee status determination.

“Uganda’s refugee policy remains open and liberal and puts emphasis on ensuring the protection of refugees with strict adherence to the international human rights standards and we shall ensure these standards are maintained,” Dr Mallinga said.

Nirangira said her country, in partnership with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), will now prepare to receive some of the refugees, who have already expressed desire to return home.

“What I should emphasise here is that we shall not force anybody to return home; it will only be for those interested,” Nirangira said

Muhammed Adar, the UNHCR representative in Uganda, described the agreement as a big accomplishment that will enable the refugees return in safety and dignity.

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