Returnees have been dwelling in different parts of the country including Kigali, Nyamata town in Bugesera district among others.
Most of these refugees arrived in Rwanda in 2015 when Burundi was plunged into political turmoil following the re-election of late President Pierre Nkurunziza.
Speaking to the media, returnees expressed delight for returning to their mother land but revealed that they will miss Rwanda where they had great memories.
“I am extremely happy to return home in Bujumbura. I will miss Rwanda; the traditional mixed food and beans because we are accustomed to eating fishes at home,” said Uwimana Nadine who has spent six years in Kacyiru, Kigali city.
Another returnee who was living in Nyamata town said that he was amazed with Rwanda’s tight security and caring leadership that responds to the needs of citizens on time.
“From the village up to other levels of leadership, security was tightened. The country has caring leadership that interacts and understands needs of citizens. One of indelible memories is the time when President Paul Kagame stopped in Nyamata to greet us. I received a great support from Rwanda that I immersed my education in Theology at Africa Mission Bible College. I will also miss churches in Rwanda.”
The returnee requested both countries to reopen borders to facilitate movement and trade which he considers a barrier to advanced economic growth between citixens of both countries.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA), Kayumba Olivier has revealed that Rwanda’s doors are open to everyone seeking refuge or refugees returning home.
“Even though borders are closed, we are ready to welcome whoever seeking refuge with reasonable cause. Burundians themselves have the right to decide whether they want to stay in Rwanda or return,” he affirmed.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi thanked the Government of Rwanda and Burundi for their support to the repatriation of refugees and shed light on advantages to Burundians returning home.
“We commend both countries. Rwanda has thoroughly prevented COVID-19. Returnees were all tested and no one tested positive. Their repatriation is beneficial because some of them are set to resume work,” he said.
“Some children were not studying and will be able to receive needed services at home land. We are going to partner with Burundi to reintegrate returnees,” added Grandi.
Over 23,000 Burundian refugees have returned home since August 2020. It is expected that approximately 40,000 refugees will have repatriated by 2021.