More Burundi refugees in Tanzania return home
"The exercise is going on well and until yesterday (Thursday), close to 12,000 refugees have returned home," said Unluova, UNHCR's external relations officer Ivana Unluova told AFP.
Unluova said the UNHCR has so far helped repatriation of over 12,000 out of about 70,000 Burundian refugees, who have signed to return to their war-torn country.
"The situation inside Burundi is still not good and we are helping those going to the nothern part of the central African country," she said.
Joseph Karumba, leader of Burundi's rebel National Liberation Front (FROLINA), which had signed an agreement aimed at restoration of peace to Burundi in Arusha in August 2000, told AFP that he was informed that at least 1,700 refugees had returned to Tanzania after finding the situation at home hostile.
"These people are here, they are back after discovering the truth in Burundi," Karumba said.
Unluova said she was not aware of those returning to Tanzania, after a brief stay in Burundi, but pointed out that she was aware that some refugees, especially those coming from the south of Burundi, had attempted to go there on their own.
"UNHCR is discouraging the repatriation of refugees to the southern part of Burundi, where the situation is relatively hostile," she said.
Some 350,000 Burundian refugees live in Tanzania -- many of them having fled ethnic violence since 1993 when it degenerated into civil war.
The war has so far claimed more than 250,000 lives, most of them civilians, including children, women and the elderly.
Tanzania and Burundi in March launched campaigns to try and persuade the refugees to return home, following the installation of a transitional government in Bujumbura last November.
Copyright (c) 2002 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 05/31/2002 08:50:02
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