Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Burundi Government Says It Is Open to Dialogue
Tanzania Daily News
20 JANUARY 2016

IT came to light at the weekend that Burundi has eventually taken pity on its citizens most of whom are living in fear of death. Burundi Foreign Minister Alain Nyamwitwe has said that his country is now ready for a dialogue that will help restore complete peace.

Currently, Burundi is in an acrimonious political impasse that has stymied efforts by the East African Community, the African Union and the United Nations to restore peace.

Thousands of Burundians have fled their country in fear of being killed. Recent reports have cited a discovery of mass graves. There are also reports that Tutsis are being targeted in the Hutu-majority country. Refugees, most of whom are in camps in Tanzania have horror stories of wanton killings, torture, gang rapes and ethnic repression.

It is good news that the leaders of Burundi have eventually seen sense in the need to restore peace. Minister Nyamwitwe, who was speaking in Dar es Salaam at the weekend, said: “We are ready to negotiate. We already have a commission for dialogue.” Good. Let us hope that the dialogue will work in the quest to end the conflict.

The talks, presumably, will also help relieve Tanzania of the burden of hosting thousands of Burundi refugees, who keep streaming in daily. Hosting refugees is, invariably, a strenuous undertaking.

It is evident that Tanzania has done almost what other countries have never done in helping refugees most of whom entered this country seeking protection from persecution and violence.

At Independence in 1961, Tanzania received its first group of refugees from Rwanda, who were running away from persecution and terror. Another group arrived in the 1970s from Burundi, escaping state-inspired terror. More refugees followed in subsequent years from Rwanda, DR Congo, Burundi and Somalia following massive violence in their countries.

They were all received, protected and offered social services. A significant number of old case refugees from Rwanda, Burundi and Somalia were later naturalised to become Tanzanian citizens.

It is therefore clear to everybody that Tanzania has done enough, sometimes paying a heavy price. In some cases, some refugees became a source of instability and environmental degradation.

Much as Tanzania is praised for its generosity and spirit of humanity, it cannot sustain endless influx of refugees who put a strain on resources.

It should be the responsibility of everybody to ensure that the problem of refugees is solved by avoiding situations that generate refugees. Wars and other forms of violence are responsible for generating refugees. They should be avoided at any cost.

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