The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) will begin helping thousands of Burundian refugees living in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and vice-versa to return home from 5 and 20 October respectively.
The voluntary “facilitated repatriation”, which initially involves 5,000 Burundians living in DRC and 2,000 DRC refugees living in Burundi, according to a UNHCR statement, follows the December 2009 signing of tripartite agreements by the two states and the agency.
UNHCR spokesman Bernard Ntwari told IRIN the DRC refugees would return to the “most secure” areas in North and South Kivu, provinces still ravaged by armed conflict.
Burundi hosts some 41,327 refugees and asylum-seekers; of them, 40,458 are from DRC. According to UNHCR estimates, some 15,666 Burundian refugees live in DRC.
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