UNHCR welcomes conclusions of the 22nd Meeting of the Tripartite Commission for the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees

Tanzania and Burundi tripartite agreement

(From left) UNHCR Representative in Burundi, Abdul Karim Ghoul exchanges the signed joint Communiqué with Burundi's Minister of Interior Community Development and Public Security, Hon. CPC Gervais Ndirakobuca and Tanzania's Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. George Simbachawene at the 22nd meeting of the Tripartite Commission on the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian refugees in Tanzania.  © UNHCR/Magdalena Kasubi

BUJUMBURA, Burundi - Representatives of the Governments of Burundi and Tanzania and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, met for the 22nd Meeting of the Tripartite Commission for the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees from Tanzania. 

The Government of the Republic of Burundi was represented by H.E. CPC Gervais Ndirakobuca, Minister of Interior, Community Development and Public Security of the Republic of Burundi, the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania was represented by H.E. George Simbachawene, Minister of Home Affairs of the United Republic of Tanzania and the UNHCR delegation was led by Abdul Karim Ghoul, UNHCR’s Representative in Burundi.

All parties recognized the generosity of the Tanzanian people in hosting refugees, acknowledged the provisions of the Tripartite Agreement of May 2001 and reaffirmed that repatriation will continue to be facilitated for Burundian refugees who have chosen to return and whose voluntariness to return has been verified.

Although both governments indicated a desire to embark on a roadmap toward the promotion of returns, all parties have determined that conditions are not yet conducive to do so at this time.

It was also agreed that while some refugees may opt to return now, others will continue to benefit from international protection in Tanzania.

Among other key recommendations, all parties agreed to give special attention to observe WHO, regional and national COVID-19 prevention and control protocols throughout the process of voluntary repatriation to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

The Commission also agreed to redouble efforts in resource mobilization to support the reintegration of returnees. 

“Repatriation is only the first step in a refugee’s long journey to restart a dignified life back home. Unless conditions conducive to a sustainable reintegration are established, the return risks becoming a problem, not a solution,” said Abdul Karim Ghoul, UNHCR’s Representative in Burundi.

This February, UNHCR, together with the government of Burundi and 19 partners, launched the Joint Refugee Return and Reintegration Plan, appealing to the international community for US$ 104.3 million to assist returnees and returning communities. To date, less than 10 per cent of the required funds have been received, despite the increasing number of refugees returning from countries in the region. 

Since the start of the repatriation exercise in September 2017, over 150,000 Burundian refugees have returned from exile, including over 120,000 from Tanzania, 24,000 from Rwanda, 889 from Kenya, 4,275 from the DRC and 233 from Uganda.

More than 347,000 Burundians are still in exile in neighbouring countries and the region. Some 144,000 Burundian refugees reside in the Nduta, Mtendeli and Nyarugusu camps in Tanzania.

The final Joint Communique and related documents are available here in English and French.


For more information, please contact:

In Bujumbura, Bernard Ntwari, [email protected],Tel: +25779918902 

In Bujumbura, Morgane Roussel-Hemery, [email protected],Tel: +25779880271

In Dar es Salaam, Edward Ogolla, [email protected], +255784730427

In Nairobi, Faith Kasina, [email protected], Tel: +254113 427 094