The Tanzanian government has given the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, seven days to help repatriate those Burundian refugees who want to go home, or the Tanzanian authorities will do the job themselves.
The UNHCR estimates that there are 240,000 Burundians in Tanzania who have fled the political turmoil, and some of them have registered for voluntary repatriation.
Minister for Internal Affairs Mwigulu Nchemba issued the ultimatum on Thursday while on an official visit to Nduta refugee camp in Kigoma, western Tanzania.
Nchemba accused the UNHCR of delaying the return of the refugees.
Over 8,000 refugees from the Nduta camp are reported to have registered themselves as willing to return to Burundi.
Nchemba warned that if UNHCR did not immediately start returning the refugees the government would do so within these seven days I want you to have identified trucks to carry people, the food that they were supposed to eat while they are here and other stuff.
If you won’t do that, I will ask my colleague, the minister of defense to give us military trucks to send these refugees.
The UNHCR says it wants to make sure that Burundi is safe enough for the refugees to return.
The Tanzanian government’s ultimatum comes only a month since the Burundian President Pierre Nkurunzinza visited Tanzania and called on Burundian refugees to go home as he assured them that the country was stable and safe.