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Assistant High Commissioner visits Burundi/Tanzania

Briefing notes

Assistant High Commissioner visits Burundi/Tanzania

30 March 2004

Assistant High Commissioner Kamel Morjane leaves Geneva tomorrow for a week-long mission to see first-hand UNHCR's voluntary repatriation operation for hundreds of thousands of Burundi refugees in Tanzania, and to draw attention and support to this positive and hopeful operation in a region long afflicted by violence and conflict. Some 500,000 Burundi refugees remain in camps and settlements or have spontaneously settled in Tanzania, and UNHCR hopes to help approximately 150,000 of them return home this year.

The Assistant High Commissioner is scheduled to meet with Burundi President Ndayizeye and other high-level officials in Bujumbura. He will then travel to Ruyigi province, where a new transit centre opened for organized returns in late January, 2004. He will meet returned refugees and see the return operation in action.

In Tanzania, he will spend several days visiting refugee camps for Burundi refugees and talking with refugee leaders and UNHCR implementing partners. He is then scheduled to meet senior government officials and other UN agencies in Dar es Salaam before returning to Geneva.

Since 2001, approximately 195,500 Burundi refugees have returned home from Tanzania. Some 27,500 of them have returned so far in 2004, with UNHCR stepping up its operation, deploying additional staff, and opening new offices in previously inaccessible areas of Burundi to receive the returning refugees.