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Burundi: agencies cut back work after killings

Briefing notes

Burundi: agencies cut back work after killings

15 October 1999

Along with other U.N. agencies in Burundi, UNHCR has cut back its work outside the capital, Bujumbura, in the wake of the killing of two U.N. staff in south-eastern Rutana province on Tuesday.

UNHCR international and most local staff have returned to Bujumbura from three field offices in Gitega, Muyinga and Ruyigi. Some of the 23 international staff will be moved to Nairobi temporarily until a decision is taken by the security coordinator to restart activities. UNHCR's staff welfare officer has arrived in Bujumbura to speak with survivors of the attack.

The Burundi office works chiefly on returnee reintegration and monitoring. Over the past 10 months an average of 200 Burundi have returned each week - mainly to the north-eastern provinces of Muyinga, Ruyigi, Karuzi and Cankuzo - from refugee camps in Tanzania, even as fighting between rebels and the army to the south drives more people into exile. The repatriation has been stopped. There are currently around 265,000 Burundi refugees in Tanzania.

The High Commissioner has sent letters of condolence to Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF, and to Catherine Bertini, Executive Director of WFP, on the assassination of two valued colleagues. Five years ago this August, José Lopez Herrera, a UNHCR field officer, was shot dead in northern Burundi.