A refugee mother and child in Mtabila camp, in Kasulu, Tanzania, an hour from the spot in the northwest of the country where Bill and Igey were born. Forty thousand Burundian refugees now live in Mtabila. The Tanzanian government wants them out by summer’s end. Mary Wiltenburg/Special to the Christian Science Monitor

BUJUMBURA, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) — The Mtabila camp in southwestern Tanzania will be closed on the last day of 2012, a tripartite commission comprising officials from Burundi, Tanzania and UN refugee agency UNHCR said here Wednesday night.

The three parties agreed that repatriation would start on April 1 and end on Nov. 9 so that the Mtabila refugee camp, which hosts at least 38,378 Burundian refugees, could be closed by the end of the year.

In a joint press conference, the tripartite commission said that campaigns are going to be organized at the camp to persuade refugees to return home.

“A high-level delegation of the tripartite commission will visit the Mtabila camp by mid-March to persuade refugees to return home. We will tell them that Burundi is enjoying peace and stability,” said Tanzanian Home Affairs Minister Shamsi Nahodha.

Nahodha said the other strategy is to request the international community and donor countries to provide development assistance to Burundi.

Burundi urged the refugees to return home.

“We (Burundi) are ready to welcome our brothers and sisters because our country is now enjoying peace and stability. They (refugees) should return home so that we could join our hands to build our nation,” said Burundian Minister for Solidarity, Gender and Human Rights Clotilde Niragira.

Tanzania, at the same time, would stop granting citizenship to Burundian refugees.

“The Tanzanian government is not ready to grant citizenship to other Burundian refugees because the government is still paying for the naturalization of 162,000 Burundian refugees received two years ago,” said Nahodha, the Tanzanian minister.


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