Panafrican News Agency

356 Burundian refugees repatriated from Tanzania

Bujumbura, Burundi (PANA) - Some 356 Burundian refugees from the 2015 electoral crisis, including 234 men and 122 women, were due to return to their regions of origin on Wednesday after their repatriation from neighboring Tanzania, the public radio announnced.

More than 500,000 Burundians had fled the country out of fear for their lives at the start of the 2015 crisis. Around 300,000 Burundians were still in exile as of December 31, 2019, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The previous electoral crisis of 1993 had pushed more than a million Burundians on the road to exile.

This year, UNHCR forecasts assisted repatriation of at least 50,000 Burundian refugees from Tanzania.

These forecasts will nevertheless depend on the socio-political climate in this electoral year which is again fuelled by fears in Burundi, observers point out.

In 2019, official figures showed 21,197 refugees who have been repatriated from Tanzania, the country in the sub-region that supports the largest number of Burundian asylum seekers, some since 1972, the year of a previous civil war in Burundi.

Refugees from other countries in the subregion, such as Rwanda, Uganda and  Democratic Republic of Congo, are rather reluctant to return home, despite the security assurances many times renewed by the Burundian government.

Regarding reintegration, UNHCR and its partners, including the World Food Programme (WFP), generally provide a return food kit for the first three months, a cash grant and non-food items.

Returnees are still assisted in obtaining new civil and identity documents if necessary.
-0- PANA FB/BEH/KND/AR 11Mar2020