Uncertain future for Burundian refugees returning home
Burundian refugees camped in Mahama in Kirehe district in the east of the country are uncertain of returning home, despite the fact that presidential elections in the country are over.
Thousands of Burundians fled to Rwanda three months ago fearing the possibility of eruption of violence in their country during the concluded presidential polls.
About 66,879 Burundians are in Rwanda with the majority being women and children, since the announcement that Nkurunziza was bidding for a third term in office in April.
Consequently, violent protests erupted in the country after the Burundi’s ruling National Council for the Defence of Democracy-Forces for Defense and Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party designated Nkurunziza as its candidate for the presidential election and has since left the country in political turmoil.
“Our country is not safe as yet, I see no reason of returning to Burundi yet people are still dying and others are forced into exile by Burundi security personnel. I will go back home once our country is stable and secure,” Pierre Celestin Rwagasore, a refugee stated at Mahama Camp.
He noted that he doesn’t mind if Nkurunziza won elections in a transparent manner or not, what he wants is a peaceful country that focuses on economic development and poverty alleviation.
The 50-year-old Rwagasore, who heads a family of six people, stated that he is safe in Rwanda and he will remain in the camp because the place is peaceful despite the challenges of living as a refugee.
“I prefer staying in a refugee camp than going back to Burundi. Here I am safe from violence. People don’t want Nkurunziza but still he is going to lead us since he won the polls, meaning that opposition will continue violent protests. I am not going anywhere, I really want peace,” said 40-year-old Raisa Uwamahoro.
Mahama camp hosts about 30,639, according the Rwanda ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs statistics.
Seraphine Mukantabana, Rwanda minister of disaster management and refugee affairs, said that refugees will not be forced to return if their country remains insecure.
“We shall wait for total tranquillity in the country so that we look at the issue of Burundi refugees returning to their homeland,” she noted.
The Rwanda government in partnership with the humanitarian agencies has been battling malnutrition cases among thousands of children who were immediately put on a special nutrition program called blanket feeding.