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Over 180,000 Burundian refugees return home: official

BUJUMBURA – Over 180,000 Burundian citizens who lived in exile since April 2015 have returned home, a senior Burundian government official said on Wednesday.

Burundi plunged into a crisis at that time when Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run his controversial third term. 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.

Some 100,025 Burundian citizens who had fled the 2015’s crisis had returned to Burundi Until Dec. 31, 2016, following the call of President Nkurunziza made by the end of 2015, assistant to the Burundian home affairs and civic education minister Therence Ntahiraja told Xinhua by telephone.

Between this January and mid-August, over 68,000 Burundian citizens came back from exile, he said.

A tripartite meeting held on Aug. 31 in Tanzania between Tanzania, Burundi and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) set the target of repatriating around 12,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania till the end of this year. But the Burundian government has received over 13,000 returnees in this voluntary repatriation process, said the official.

The Burundian government and UNHCR are planning to repatriate over 60,000 Burundian refugees in 2018, he said.

The Burundian government had reiterated its call for the repatriation of Burundian refugees who fled the country’s 2015 crisis, saying the country is at peace.

There are 428,514 Burundian refugees haven’t returned to Burundi, among them 391,636 refugees fled the country since the crisis occurring in April 2015, according to figures from UNHCR, last updated on Dec. 11, 2017.

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