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Burundi: rate of flight to Tanzania increases

Briefing notes

Burundi: rate of flight to Tanzania increases

22 August 2000

Burundi refugees are crossing into western Tanzania at an increasing rate despite additional military activity near the border and the alleged deployment of Burundi government soldiers to stop the movement.

Almost 2,600 Burundis have been registered during the first half of August by UNHCR staff in Ngara and Kigoma. The rate of 160 people per day is up from just over 100 per day in July, when 3,378 refugees arrived in Tanzania, and from less than 30 per day in the month of June. Monthly totals of new arrivals had been declining steadily since the beginning of the year to a low of 850 in June.

Most of the recent arrivals are crossing to camps around Kibondo, at the mid-point between Ngara and Kigoma. A large number of refugees who managed to cross in the past month abandoned homes in Ruyigi province after being caught by heavy fighting between the government troops and FDD/CNDD rebels. Gunfire and explosions are regularly heard from Tanzania's border districts.

Refugees told UNHCR that at the end of July, in several villages around the town of Gisuru, civilians were beaten, houses were demolished and women were abused by rebels, apparently in reprisal for refusing to leave the area. Others say that government military sweeps are driving out civilians, especially young men, whom soldiers suspect of collaborating with rebel groups.