UN Migration Agency Appeals for Over USD 3 Million to Assist Burundian Refugees Return Home from Tanzania

Humanitarian Emergencies, Refugee and Asylum Issues

Kigoma – Approximately 12,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania have asked the Government of Tanzania and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency for assistance to get home. Close to 280,000 refugees fled into Tanzania from Burundi following an upsurge in violence in 2015, of whom nearly 80 per cent are women and children. Now, some see the areas from where they originated as safe and want to return.

On 31 August, the Governments of Tanzania and Burundi and UNHCR signed an agreement on the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees in Tanzania, which initiated the return process. Only refugees who have been fully briefed on the situation within their country in order to make an informed decision and then voluntarily sign up will return to Burundi through the programme. 

IOM, the UN Migration Agency’s team in Tanzania carried out two cross-border assessment missions to Burundi on 27-29 August and 5-6 September respectively. The missions’ objectives were to assess the transit centres set up by humanitarian agencies and the Burundian Government to receive the returning refugees before they move onto their areas of origin. The missions also assessed the road conditions on both sides of the border as the refugees will be travelling by bus.

On 7 September 2017 following the two missions, IOM safely transported the first group of 301 refugees and their belongings to the Gisuru and Ruyigi Transit Centres in Burundi. Before leaving, IOM medical teams carried out fit-to-travel medical screenings and provided the convoy with operation and medical escorts. To date (21 September 2017), five IOM convoys have transported 1,666 refugees back to Burundi with safety and dignity.

The second phase of the return assistance is expected to start in November and to end by December 2017. It will not be possible to continue the repatriation exercise without international support. USD 450,000 is needed to transport those who have voluntarily registered to return home from Tanzania.

A further USD 3.265 million is needed for assistance once they have arrived in Burundi, including transport, shelter, core relief items and reintegration activities supporting social cohesion, community capacity to absorb returnees, and socioeconomic development of vulnerable persons.

Community dialogue sessions with members of the host communities will be held in areas, to where more people have returned. The dialogue sessions will include some job training and cash-for-work projects.

The appeal in Burundi would support an estimated 1,400 people including returnees and host community members in five provinces: Kirundo, Makamba, Muyinga, Rutana, and Ruyigi.  

View the detailed appeal here.

“Coordinating transport and reintegration support on this scale inherently has its challenges; however, the biggest challenge we and our partners are facing at the moment is a funding shortage. Without international support, we will not be able to help the remainder of those who have volunteered to go back home,” said Dr. Qasim Sufi, IOM Chief of Mission to Tanzania. “We are appealing for funds so that IOM can continue the transportation of those who have voluntarily registered to return home with safety and dignity and so that they can build a meaningful life there.”

For more information, please contact IOM Kigoma:
Jamal Mohamud, Tel: +255626130824, Email: jmohamud@iom.int 
Son Ha Dinh, Tel: +255682006852, Email: shdinh@iom.int 

  • IOM assisting Burundian refugee families onto buses in Nduta for their return to Burundi. Photo: UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017