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Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees from Tanzania to Burundi (30 September 2018)

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At a Tripartite Commission meeting in August 2017, the governments of Tanzania, Burundi, and UNHCR agreed to assist refugees who wish to voluntarily repatriate from Tanzania to Burundi. The August 2017 meeting and a subsequent meeting in March 2018 reaffirmed the commitment of both governments and UNHCR to uphold the principle of voluntariness, and noted that while some refugees may opt to return, others will continue to be in need of international protection. While the Governments of Burundi and Tanzania have undertaken to promote refugee returns, UNHCR has reiterated its position not to promote returns at this time, and of the importance of all refugees having the opportunity to make a free and informed choice without undue pressure. The March 2018 Tripartite meeting produced a work plan entailing the repatriation of approximately 2,000 refugees per week from 5 April to 31 December 2018. However, additional funding is needed to increase the capacity of transit centres, hire safe transportation, address critical staffing shortages, continue to provide modest return packages, and improve the returnee monitoring framework in Burundi. More support is also needed for sustainable reintegration of returnees at the community level. UNHCR will be developing municipal profiles to provide information to refugees on the situation in areas of return and to guide the development of reintegration programs. As of 31 August 2018 there were approximately 27,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania registered for, verified, and awaiting voluntary repatriation.