The Burundian delegation is led by the Permanent Secretary in the Interior Ministry in charge of Public Security, Lt Gen of Police, André Ndayambaje who came with governors of provinces touching Rwanda’s borders. These include the Governor of Kirundo, Albert Hatungimana; his counterpart of Kayanza, Rémy Cishahayo and Léonidas Bandenzamaso of Bururi Province.
They were also accompanied by the General Director of refugee repatriation in Burundi, Nestor Bimenyimana who said that Burundian refugees continue to return to their homeland from Rwanda and other countries.
The delegation that was welcomed by the Minister of Emergency Management; the Governor of Eastern Province, Emmanuel Gasana; his counterpart of Southern Province, Alice Kayitesi and the Mayor of Bugesera District, Mutabazi Richard upon arrival at Nemba One Stop Border on Monday.
As they arrived in Kigali, they Burundian officials were also received by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Clémentine Mukeka and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Emergency Management, Philippe Habinshuti among others.
Discussions between both countries were also attended by Ndeye Aissatou Masseck Ndiaye, the Country Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to Rwanda.
Mukeka assured Burundian delegation that Rwanda is ready to contribute to the successful repatriation campaign and help willing refugees to return home in collaboration with UNHCR.
“Rwanda understands well hardships associated with being a refugee. That is why we are concerned to see Burundian refugees in Rwanda returning to their home country voluntarily to join the rest of the population to build their nation,” she said.
“We commend the decision by the Government of Burundi to sensitize Burundians staying here on voluntary repatriation. It is a commendable step bespeaking political will to address refugee crisis,” added Mukeka.
The Permanent Secretary in the Interior Ministry in charge of Public Security, Lt Gen of Police, Ndayambaje said that his country sent the delegation to bring a message of hope to Burundians who fled to Rwanda.
“We want them to return to their home country. We opened gates and they should be reminded that there are others repatriated before 2020 who are leading a dignified life. Many of them resumed their jobs, are involved in income-generating activities and contribute to their nation’s development,” he noted.
The campaign is held for the first time since 2015, when over 80,000 Burundians fled to Rwanda amidst the insecurity that followed an attempted coup.
According to MINEMA, a total of 30,315 refugees have returned to Burundi since 2020.
Currently, 50, 329 Burundian refugees live in Rwanda, most of them in the Mahama refugee camp.
On Monday afternoon, the delegation from Burundi met with representatives of Burundian refugees living in Kigali City and other places. They are also expected to interact with Burundian refugees living in Mahama camp in Kirehe District.
Currently, Rwanda registers over 49,000 Burundian refugees.