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Burundi: UNHCR prepares for major influx to Tanzania

Briefing notes

Burundi: UNHCR prepares for major influx to Tanzania

15 November 1999

UNHCR in Tanzania is making contingency plans for a major refugee influx from Burundi as refugees continue to stream across the border. As the security situation in Burundi worsens, refugees are arriving in Tanzania at a rate of about 500 people a day.

Burundi refugees arriving in Tanzania's Ngara Province speak of forced movement of families from their homes to government-organized "regroupement centres."

Many refugees arrive with no possessions and wearing two or three layers of clothing. They say that the Burundi army has warned the population against trying to cross the border, and that people are arrested if they are spotted carrying belongings. Most refugees say they fled at night or had to lie about where they were going when questioned by the authorities. They show signs of fatigue and some are malnourished. Some say they are leaving on the advice of Burundi's Hutu rebels who predict an intensification of fighting.

Since the beginning of November, more than 7,000 Burundi have fled to Tanzania, almost as many as in the entire month of October.

Refugees arriving in the Ngara region are transferred to Lukole camp, where two existing sites can accommodate another 75,000 people.

In the Kigoma region, the present camp destination is Mtendeli. But at the current rate of arrival, Mtendeli camp will be full in a few weeks. Work to improve access roads and the water system is underway at another existing site, Kanembwa in the area of Kasulu, while UNHCR is negotiating with local authorities on the expansion of other sites.

Refugee camps in Tanzania are already hosting more than 275,000 Burundi refugees.