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Burundi repatriation: over 10,000 return during August

Briefing notes

Burundi repatriation: over 10,000 return during August

3 September 2004

More than 10,000 Burundians, who fled to surrounding countries during a decade of hostilities between 1993 and 2003, have returned home during August as part of UNHCR's voluntary repatriation programme, bringing the total number of returnees during 2004 to almost 77,000. This is the second month running the number of returnees has broken the 10,000 barrier and we expect the demand to remain strong. The great majority returned in convoys from camps over the border - mainly from Tanzania - but others have come from Uganda, Kenya, the Central African Republic, Rwanda, the DRC, and further afield. Just last week, a family of four was repatriated to Bujumbura from Beijing, China

Most of the Burundian refugees are in Tanzania. Some 260,000 refugees are in camps, and another 470,000 refugees are dispersed throughout the country. Our overall planning figure for repatriation is 400,000. In 2004, we hope to repatriate 150,000 Burundians and aim for a similar number in 2005.

UNHCR is helping to reintegrate the returnees with shelter needs, medical care, nutrition, crop production, schools and education for children. Building schools and extra classrooms is a priority.

Funding is vital for these repatriation and reintegration activities. UNHCR launched an appeal in June for $21 million for 2004 and called for a further $62.23 million in 2005. So far, the appeal has been severely under funded and unless we receive funds for this appeal in the coming weeks, we may have to stop our voluntary repatriation programme to Burundi by the end of the month.