Sunday, June 1, 2014

Your Huddled Masses

In 1993, Malchior Ndayaye, Burundi's first democratically-elected president, was assassinated. He was a member of the Hutu tribe; his assailants were of the rival Tutsis. This was the catalyst for some of the most unspeakable horrors in recent human history. Hutus committed genocide in both Burundi and Rwanda, Rwanda's further sparked in 1994 by their president dying in a plane crash along with Ndayaye's successor, but while the Rwandan genocide would peter out later that year as remaining Tutsis fled the country, there weren't many safe places to run. Some ran to Tanzania. DR Congo has never been an ideal option, but some ran there. And some ran straight into another mouth of hell in Burundi, where a civil war raged until 2005. In the process, Tanzania took in hundreds of thousands, millions possibly, of refugees, refugees they didn't particularly want, and as a result, the border between Burundi and Tanzania has been somewhat carefully monitored, or at least as close as it's going to get.

Well, this too shall pass. In 2011, Tanzania and Burundi signed a bilateral agreement to loosen their border somewhat, pledging to create a one-stop crossing in order to ease the transit of people and goods. That crossing is getting close to being done; they're hoping to open it on June 7. In addition, Tanzania's Ministry of Home Affairs is all but rubber-stamping the refugees officially into the country to stay. 227,500 refugees still in the country in two camps were given the option in 2010 to either seek citizenship or head home. 172,405 of them opted to stay. According to Tanzania's Daily News, 162,156 of them have been granted it.

I'd say congratulations to them, but I don't think that's quite the word for it.

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