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United Republic of Tanzania: Burundian Refugee Voluntary Repatriation Operation (November 2018)

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On 31 August 2017 at the Tripartite Commission Meeting for the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees in Tanzania, the Tripartite Commission (United Republic of Tanzania, Republic of Burundi, and UNHCR) issued a joint communiqué and agreed to implement a work plan from 7 September to 31 December 2017, which entails the voluntary repatriation plan of Burundian refugees who wish to return to Burundi.

On 28 March 2018, a follow up Tripartite Commission Meeting was held in Bujumbura, Burundi. While UNHCR continued to maintain that it will assist and not promote voluntary returns to Burundi due to the unresolved political situation, both governments reaffirmed their commitment to promoting return and upholding the principle of voluntariness. With the completion of Phases I, II and III, the two Governments, UNHCR and key partners agreed to implement a new work plan to return 72,000 individuals from 5 April to 31 December 2018. While UNHCR is not promoting voluntary return to Burundi, it is supporting the operation to ensure that returns are based on the principles of voluntariness and informed decisions, and take place in safety and dignity.

The Tripartite Commission also acknowledged that while some refugees may opt to return now, others may still have well-founded reasons for not returning at the present time and will continue to be in need of international protection.

The voluntary repatriation exercise resumed in November after temporarily being put on hold in October following the suspension of almost all non-governmental organisations operating in Burundi on 28 September.

Return Figures and Trends from the Reporting Period
- 3,789 individuals assisted to voluntarily repatriate to Burundi in November;
- 1,608 and 42.4% males and 2,181 and 57.6% females;
- 367 of returnees were persons with specific needs;
- 6 return convoys.

Overall Return Figures and Trends

As at 30 November 2018, 56,049 individuals have returned since September 2017. Below is the breakdown:

  • 28,338 (50.6%) females & 27,711 (49.4%) males;
  • 31,877 (56.9%) children;
  • 5.296 and 9.4% persons with specific needs; and
  • The highest number of returns were to Ruyigi, Muyinga, and Makamba provinces (13,288, 11,432 and 7,645 returnees respectively).