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Friday, February 28, 2020

Tanzania bans trade at 73,000 Burundian refugee camp

The Tanzanian authorities have banned commercial activities inside Nduta refugee camp, in the north-west region, which hosts more than 73,000 Burundian refugees.

The refugees say the ban, together with the demolition of the main market over the weekend, is part of efforts to force them to leave the camp.

“We don’t know how we are going to survive. We live by small trades of buying and selling, they only do this to pressure us [to go] home,” one refugee at the camp told the BBC on condition of anonymity.

Tanzania abandoned its plan to forcefully repatriate the refugees three weeks ago after the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) raised concerns.

Some refugees have been voluntarily repatriated to Burundi, but the majority remain in camps because they fear for their security back home.

Dana Hughes, UNHCR regional spokesperson in East Africa, told the BBC they are not aware of the demolition of the market at Nduta, but that “it couldn’t be a new thing”.

Last week, UNHCR issued a statement condemning the Tanzanian government for coercing the refugees to leave against their will.

Tanzania hosts more than 200,000 Burundi refugees living in Nyarugusu, Nduta and Mtendeli camps in Kigoma province.

Most of them fled Burundi in 2015 following political unrest in the wake of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s successful push for a constitutional amendment to allow for three presidential terms.

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