UN refugee official reviews return of Burundians from Tanzania

Crossing the Burundian border into western Tanzania over the weekend, Assistant High Commissioner Kamel Morjane visited several refugee camps near the border, including Mtendeli, Kanembwa and Mtabila camps for Burundian refugees, as well as Nyarugufu camp for Congolese refugees.He was scheduled to meet senior officials and representatives from partner humanitarian agencies in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, before ending his mission tomorrow.The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is expanding its presence in the Great Lakes country because many refugees want to return home, now that a ceasefire and power-sharing agreement have been worked out in Burundi, improving the security climate.”We came to see for ourselves the situation in the camps in Tanzania and in Burundi at this crucial point in time when the history and future of this country, characterized by the obvious willingness of thousands of Burundians to return to their homes, are at a crossroads.” Mr. Morjane said at the weekend, during a visit to the Gisuru transit centre in eastern Burundi’s Ruyigi province.”We are here at this critical juncture to contribute to the successful outcome of this operation,” he noted.About 20,300 of the over 28,000 Burundian refugees who returned home from Tanzania this year passed through Gisuru, a new border crossing opened in late January.Under a voluntary repatriation plan now being finalized, UNHCR aims to help 500,000 refugees return to and reintegrate into Burundi between now and 2006. The agency is planning to facilitate the return of at least 150,000 Burundian refugees from Tanzania this year, spokesman Peter Kessler said. read more