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Tanzania set to close one of its nine camps for Burundian refugees

Briefing notes

Tanzania set to close one of its nine camps for Burundian refugees

5 April 2005

Tanzania is set to close one of its nine camps for Burundian refugees towards the end of this month as large numbers of refugees continue to return Burundi under the ongoing voluntary repatriation programme. As part of a camp consolidation move, Karago camp in the Kibondo district of north-western Tanzania, currently home to some 5,500 Burundian refugees, will be closed. The refugees will be moved to the neighbouring camp of Mtendeli, where they will continue to receive the same levels of assistance. Under a tripartite agreement with UNHCR and Burundi, the Tanzanian authorities agreed that all camps with a refugee population under 10,000 refugees would be closed.

More than 158,000 Burundian refugees have returned home with UNHCR's assistance since we began a voluntary repatriation programme from Tanzania in March 2002. More than half those returns - 83,000 - took place in 2004, with numbers decreasing towards the end of the year. The year-end decline was mainly due to uncertainty among the refugees about the security situation in Burundi ahead of the February referendum.

We hope to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of about 85,000 Burundian refugees from Tanzania in 2005. In the first three months of this year, we helped 7,800 refugees return home. Concerns among the refugees over the availability of basic services in their home country and the peace process partially explain the drop in repatriation numbers.

More than 240,000 Burundian refugees are living in Tanzanian camps, while another 200,000 are in settlements and an unknown number are in cities and villages. Tanzania is also home to over 150,000 Congolese refugees and almost 3,000 Somali refugees.