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Opening Statement by Hon. Mwigulu Lameck Nchemba (MP), Minister for Home Affairs of the United Republic of Tanzania on the 19th Meeting of the Tripartite Commission for the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees in Tanzania held on 31st August 2107,

Thursday, August 31, 2017

 
Hon. Pascal Barandagiye, Minister for Interior and Patriotic Education of the Republic of Burundi and Head of Burundi Delegation,
Madam Chansa Ruth Kapaya, UNHCR Country Representative in Tanzania and Head of UNHCR Delegation,
 
Hon. Brig. General (Rtd) Emmanuel Maganga, Kigoma Regional Commissioner,
Hon. Major General (Rtd) Salum M. Kijuu, Kagera Regional Commissioner, 
Mr. Abel Mbilinyi, UNHCR Representative for Burundi,
 
H.E. Rajabu Hassan Gamaha, the Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania in Burundi,
 
H.E. Gervais Abayeho, the Ambassador of the Republic of Burundi in Tanzania,
 
Distinguished Heads of Technical Working Group Delegations,
Distinguished Delegates and Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It’s my great pleasure to welcome you to Dar es Salaam and to this important meeting of the Tripartite commission for the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees in Tanzania. I hope that so far you have enjoyed your stay in this wonderful and great city.
Excellences, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we start the meeting of the Tripartite Commission for the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees in Tanzania, I would like at the outset to affirm the commitment of the United Republic of Tanzania to the principle of voluntary repatriation of refugees as provided by the international law especially the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and our own the1998 Refugee Act.
Excellences, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Tanzania continues to honour its international obligation in providing asylum space to people running from persecution. By July 31st 2017, the United Republic of Tanzania had 351,400 refugees majority of them from the Republic of Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In this, 73,377 are Congolese, 277,535 are from Burundi, 150 are Bantu–Somali from Somalia and 338 are from other nationalities.These refugees are hosted in the camps of Nyarugusu(142,172), Nduta(126, 740), Mtendeli(50,063), Kigoma villages(23, 047), old setlements(9,036), Lumasi(143) and Dar es Salaam(199). Tanzania also still hosts Burundian refugees of 1972 influx, who include 23,047 in spontaneous villages in Kigoma region, and about 16,000 refugees who are hosted in three old settlements of Katumba, Mishamo in Katavi Region and Ulyankulu in Tabora region.
Excellences, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Voluntary repatriation of refugees is the ideal durable solution to refugees’ problems not only because it ends the status of ‘victimhood’ to refugees but also because it enables them to contribute to socio-economic and political developments of their home countries. It is for this reason that both the host country, the country of origin and the UNHCR are duty bound to facilitate voluntary repatriation of refugees to their home country, more so, when, the refugees themselves demand to be repatriated to their homeland.
 
 
Excellences, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
The international law provides for the principle of voluntary repatriation to be applied when the circumstances in the country of origin no longer require international protection of refugees. The international law also requires readiness of the home country to provide protection for the returning refugees.  
Excellences, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
The United Republic of Tanzania is aware that the situation in Burundi is stable and allows for the voluntary repatriation of refugees to their home country. As we may all recall, on 22nd August, 2017, H. E. Pierre Nkurunzinza, the President of the Republic of Burundi, when he met his counterpart, H. E. Dr.John Joseph Pombe Magufuli, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania in Ngara District appealled to Burundian refugees living in Tanzania to return home voluntarily given the restored peace and security in Burundi. In addition, in a meeting with my counterpart from Burundi, Hon. Pascal Barandagiye, on April 2017, I was made to be aware that Burundi is peaceful and stable to allow for refugees to return home in safety and dignity. I have also been informed that from the Technical Working Group meeting which took place prior to this meeting,  the delegation of Burundi affirmed their readiness to admit their own nationals and offer them protection.
Excellences, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Due to fundamental changes in peace and security environment in Burundi, there are now more than 12,000 refugees who have, on their own accord, decided to register for voluntary repatriation. Moreover, spontaneous repatriation is a regular phenomenon for Burundi refugees at the moment.
Excellences, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a fundamental principle of human rights for any one to leave and return to one’s own country. In a situation, where refugees have expressed their willingness to return home, it is our obligation to assist the returnees return to their areas of origin in conditions of safety and dignity as provided by the Tripartite Agreement signed on 8th May 2001. It is encouraging to learn that we are all united in a resolve to facilitate voluntary return of over 12,000 refugees who have registered and shown the willingness to return back to their homeland.
Excellences, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I believe as the repatriation gets underway, beginning on the 7th of September 2017, more and more refugees will come forward to register for voluntary repatriation. As the process of return become more sustainable and compounded by increasing number of returnees, it is my plea that the international community should support the process by funding both the process and more importantly, the areas of return in Burundi to make the exercise more sustainable. To achieve this goal, we must also plan carefully, with a focus of future repatriation projections to avoid any unforeseen setbacks. 
Excellences, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am confident that we will have a fruitful meeting and I hope that at the conclusion of this meeting we will have a Tripartite Consensus on the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees in Tanzania as well as a calendar of activities to facilitate the return of the refugees to their homeland.
With these few remarks, I once again welcome all of you and I declare the 18th meeting of the Tripartite Commission for the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundi Refugees in Tanzania officially opened. Thank you for your kind attention

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