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Tanzania: Burundi arrivals drop sharply

Briefing notes

Tanzania: Burundi arrivals drop sharply

25 February 2000

The number of refugees arriving in Tanzania from Burundi has fallen sharply since the beginning of February. Only 5,000 new refugees have been recorded so far this month in Tanzania, compared to over 23,000 in January. The recent arrivals reported continued fighting between government troops and rebels, particularly in the Gitega and Ruyigi Provinces of Burundi, and a resurgence of fighting closer to the border with Tanzania. Some new arrivals reported the border fighting was also preventing more people from fleeing.

In a now typical incident, rebels recently arrived at a village located between the Ruyigi and Gitega towns. When the approximately 100 families in the village refused to hand over their cattle, the rebels opened fire, forcing most of the villagers to flee, refugees said. After the attack, government soldiers arrived and fired at the remaining villagers, and at least 15 persons were reported by refugees to have been killed. Fighting was also reported in Kayanza Province (north-western Burundi), where 30 villagers were reported killed, refugees said.

All new arrivals from Burundi are transferred to Karago camp in Tanzania, which now hosts 40,000 refugees.

Arrivals from the DR of Congo have also slowed. So far, some 600 new arrivals were recorded in February, compared to 1,300 in January. The refugees, who reportedly fled from Baraka, claim they were obliged to leave due to acute food shortages during the past few months. Others who arrived from Uvira and Fizi claimed that heavy fighting is still raging and rebel forces continue to loot villages. Much of the local population is still hiding in the forest, they said.