“The refugees before departure appreciated the generosity of the leadership and people of Uganda for hosting them for many years.”

600 Burundi refugees start voluntary return home

Prime Minister Dr. . File Photo

“The refugees before departure appreciated the generosity of the leadership and people of Uganda for hosting them for many years.”

REFUGEES

A total of 603 Burundi refugees who have been in Uganda for close to ten years started a voluntary return to their country, on Sunday (December 13, 2020).

The repatriation flights have been organised and funded by UNHCR.

A statement Advisor and Head of Communications from the Prime Minister’s Office Julius Mucunguzi says, “Under the Uganda/Burundi/UNHCR tripartite Commission on the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundi Refugees in Uganda, the first batch of 61 refugees left Entebbe for Bujumbura through Entebbe International Airport, aboard a chartered Uganda Airlines flight on Sunday.”

He explained that the remaining refugees will travel in separate batches in the coming days.

As part of adherence to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Mucunguzi explains that all those repatriated have been tested and found negative of COVID-19; 72 hours before departure.”

“They were accompanied on the flight by Godfrey Byaruhanga and Arthur Mugarura from the Office of the Prime Minister and Dancun Mato from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR.)”

He also noted, “David Kazungu, the Commissioner for Refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister said that the individuals who are returning to Burundi voluntarily registered and expressed their desire to return to their home countries. The refugees before departure appreciated the generosity of the leadership and people of Uganda for hosting them for many years.”

Uganda currently hosts over 1.4 million refugees coming from different countries in the region, including South Sudan, DRC, Rwanda, Somalia and Eritrea.

Commenting on the development, Mucunguzi says, “Prime Minister Dr welcomed the news and praised the generosity of host communities that have lived and sheltered the refugees for many years.”

He quotes the Ambassador saying, “As we have always observed, no one ever chooses to be a refugee. So it is only proper to treat people who flee their homes on the search of safety and security, humanely, with dignity and respect.

We also thank our partners, especially the UNHCR, the World Bank and others for their long-standing solidarity with Uganda in supporting refugees and host communities. I am therefore pleased that these brothers and sisters have made a voluntary decision to return to their home country.”

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