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Repatriation of Rwandan refugees almost complete

The repatriation of Rwandan refugees from camps in western Tanzania should be "substantively completed" by the end of the year, according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). A statement issued following a tripartite meeting of the governments of the two countries and the UNHCR on 13 December described the remaining difficulties or obstacles to the repatriation as "minor". To date, 18,000 refugees of a total of 21,000 residing in the Kitali hills and Lukole camps around Ngara had signed up for assisted repatriation, UNHCR reported. Of these, 14,800 had already gone home - 5,600 of them since the beginning of December. A convoy this week and probably another two next week would transport refugees to Rwanda, a UNHCR spokeswoman, Ivana Unluova, told IRIN. By the end of the year, only a couple of thousand were expected to have remained in Tanzania. UNHCR and the respective governments have been actively promoting the repatriation of the refugees, the vast majority of them Hutus who fled Rwanda in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. "Go-and-see visits" had been organised to allow former refugees to visit the camps to report on the situation at home, said Unluova. Many of the refugees had been told by relatives that their disputes at home, most of which were land related, had been settled, she added, which had led to their decision to return.
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