Burundi receives first batch of repatriated refugees from Tanzania

BUJUMBURA – Burundi on Thursday received the first batch of 301 refugees from Tanzania as part of some 12,000 refugees expected to return to Burundi till the end of this year, a senior government official said.

All those Burundian returnees came from Nduta refugee camp in the western Kigoma province in Tanzania and crossed the border with the help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a voluntary repatriation process that will continue up to Dec. 31, 2017.

After receiving the returnees, Terence Ntahiraja, assistant to the Burundian home affairs and civic education minister, thanked Tanzania for receiving Burundian asylum seekers.

In June this year, the UN refugee agency said Tanzania remained the largest host of Burundian refugees.

Tanzania is currently home to more than 315,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are hosted in three refugee camps of Nyarugusu, Nduta, and Mtendeli, which face severe pressure.

Burundi plunged into a crisis since April 2015 when Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run his controversial third term bid.

His candidature, which was opposed by the opposition and civil society groups, resulted in a wave of protests, violence and even a failed coup on May 13, 2015.

Over 410,000 people have fled to other countries mostly Tanzania, Rwanda, DR Congo and Uganda since the outbreak of the crisis.

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