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OPEC Fund to help Burundi reintegration

Briefing notes

OPEC Fund to help Burundi reintegration

18 March 2005

We are pleased to learn that the OPEC [Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries] Fund for International Development is contributing $300,000 towards a UNHCR project for the sustainable reintegration of Burundian returnees. The funds will be used to finance an urgent operation to assist some 4,000 families who recently returned to Burundi's north-eastern provinces of Muyinga and Kirundo.

Voluntary repatriation to Burundi is one of UNHCR's largest return programmes in Africa. Some 90,000 Burundian refugees returned from neighbouring Tanzania last year - including 12,500 to Muyinga province, and another 6,000 to Kirundo. We plan to assist a further 150,000 refugees return to Burundi this year. There are, however, growing concerns about security and the very difficult food situation in parts of Burundi, especially in the north. Muyinga and Kirundo provinces are both badly affected by famine.

UNHCR's sustainable reintegration programme includes the construction of shelter and rehabilitation of schools and health centres, as well as income-generating and, if needed, reconciliation projects. While the programmes are community-based, their primary focus is on vulnerable people, including families headed by a single person, women, and the elderly.

In 2001, at the peak of the Afghan crisis, the OPEC Fund for International Development contributed $200,000 to help UNHCR meet the basic needs of Afghan refugees. It is the first time that the Vienna-based organisation supports UNHCR's reintegration and reconstruction work, and we hope that this will be the start of a solid working relationship between our two organisations. Negotiations are currently underway on joint projects to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa.

The OPEC Fund for International Development is an intergovernmental development finance institution established in 1976 by the member states of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. It aims to promote cooperation between OPEC member countries and other developing countries, particularly the poorer, low-income countries in pursuit of social and economic advancement.