Burundi refugee flow slows, landmines pose threat

DAR ES SALAAM, Feb 17 (Reuters)

  • The flow of refugees fleeing Burundi's civil war has slowed in recent weeks because landmines and hostile army troops are preventing people from escaping the country, the U.N. said on Thursday.
    The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said the numbers of Burundians arriving at refugee camps inside Tanzania had fallen to about 800 a day in early February from 1,000 a day last month.

"On the basis of the first eight days of February, there is a significant reduction," Vincent Parker, UNHCR's spokesman said in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam.

"The refugees have reported the presence of landmines as part of the reason why the numbers have dwindled. There is also a heavy presence of the military at the border," Parker told Reuters.

Burundi's civil war, which began in 1993, pits ethnic Hutu rebels against a Tutsi-led government and has killed at least 200,000 people. Fighting escalated sharply in the second half of last year, causing a new spurt in refugee numbers.

Most of the refugees are Hutu peasants from areas of heavy rebel activity in eastern Burundi, notably the provinces of Gisuru, Ruyigi and Kinyinya.

More than 310,000 Burundian refugees are already being housed in several camps in western Tanzania.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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