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Thousands of Burundi refugees arrive in Tanzania

Briefing notes

Thousands of Burundi refugees arrive in Tanzania

8 October 1999

Four thousand new Burundi refugees have been registered by UNHCR in Kasulu, in western Tanzania, during the past two weeks. The new arrivals from Burundi's Makamba province say they are fleeing heavy fighting between government forces and rebels around the village of Susumwa.

According to the refugees, government troops are trying to move civilians forcibly into camps so that young males are not pressed into the rebel ranks. Rebels are reported to be harassing the population in an effort to drive people out of the same areas and into exile. Refugees have told UNHCR that in the process many homes are being burned.

UNHCR field offices in western Tanzania have been helping Burundi fleeing battles in Makamba in the past months, but until the end of September arrivals have totalled a few hundred refugees per month.

The recent arrivals are crossing at four points near the town of Kasulu, where they are screened before being taken to Nduta camp. Space around the camp, with a population of 40,000 before the influx, is being urgently identified to accommodate the increase. Refugees say they expect many more Burundi civilians to cross into Tanzania.