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Tanzania: Rwandan returns continue

Briefing notes

Tanzania: Rwandan returns continue

6 December 2002

Returns of Rwandan refugees from Tanzania continue, with more than 1,100 refugees expected to go home today, Friday. Yesterday's convoys saw 970 refugees repatriate from their camps near Ngara, across the Rusumo Bridge, to Rwanda's Nyakarambi transit centre.

So far this year, more than 9,000 Rwandan refugees have returned. Only some 15,000 refugees remain in the country. Once back in Rwanda, returnees receive a repatriation package - including a plastic tarpaulin, blankets, soap and used clothing, along with WFP food aid - after processing at Nyakarambi,. They are then transported back to their areas of origin.

The rise in the number of returnees over recent weeks follows the organisation in recent weeks of several "go and see" visits to Rwanda that have given refugees a chance to visit Kibungo and Butare prefectures and then report back to the camps.

The majority of the recent returnees say they feel encouraged to go back by the installation of the gacaca tribunals, local traditional courts that are working to resolve judicial matters dating back to the 1994 genocide. Returned refugees now holding positions on the gacaca have even gone back to the camps to encourage other Rwandans to return.