The Namibian government last week directed its ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration. Safety and Security to enter into an agreement by signing the Exchange of Letters with the Government of the Republic of Burundi and the UNHCR Regional Representative, in order to pave the way for voluntary return of Burundian refugees from Namibia in safety and dignity.
“The cabinet took note of the Tripartite Meetings of the Senior Officials of the Governments of Namibia and Burundi, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the facilitation of voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees from Namibia,” a report read from Namibia’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.
Namibia is among other African countries that Burundi and UNHCR held tripartite meetings with in effort to voluntarily repatriate Burundian refugees who had fled the country when the East African country plunged into a political turmoil.
Hundreds of thousands of Burundians fled the country in 2015 when former late president Pierre Nkurunziza vied for a third term in the office that sparked violent protests against the move.
569 asylum applications by refugees were received in 2020 in Namibia according to the UNHCR, the majority coming from DRC and Burundi.
In August 2017 representatives of Burundi and Tanzanian government alongside the UN refugee agency held the first tripartite meeting to facilitate voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees from Tanzania.
Tanzania hosted the largest number of Burundian refugees and asylum seekers, in 2017 more than two hundred thousand Burundian refugees were hosted by Tanzania.
Since 2017 Thousands of Burundian refugees from neighboring Tanzania and Rwanda returned to their home country under the tripartite agreement between the respective governments, UNHCR and Burundi.
The UNHCR Mandate for Voluntary repatriation have been refined and extended from the initial consideration that UNHCR’s responsibility ended when repatriants crossed the border back into their home country, to a substantive involvement with regard to facilitating to securing protection and providing assistance to returnees in the country of origin.