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Burundi Situation: UNHCR Regional Update (November 2019)

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329,252* Total Burundian refugees residing in the main hosting countries (United Republic of Tanzania, Rwanda, the DRC, Uganda).

20,916 Burundian refugees assisted to voluntarily return so far in 2019, with some 409 assisted in November.

10,493 Total Burundian arrivals recorded in 2019. In November, 1,170 new arrivals were reported.

79,720 Total Burundian refugees assisted to return between September 2017 and 30 November 2019, mainly from Tanzania. For more information, please check the Voluntary Repatriation dashboard.

103,352 Number of IDPs in Burundi as of November 2019 according to IOM’s Data Tracking Matrix, for 77 per cent the factors of displacement are linked to natural disasters, for 23 per cent they are linked to the socio-political situation.

Highlights and Operational Context

Update on voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees from the United Republic of Tanzania


  • UNHCR and partners are not promoting returns to Burundi but are working with the governments involved to ensure that returns are based on the principles of voluntariness and informed decisions and take place in safety and dignity.

  • The current return operation is taking place under the framework of a Tripartite Agreement between the two governments and UNHCR in which all parties have acknowledged that while some refugees may opt to return now, others may still have well-founded reasons not to return at the present time and will continue to be in need of international protection.

  • To ensure a sustainable reintegration in Burundi, support has been requested for both returnees and communities in areas of return in line with the objectives of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), in particular objective four (4), which focuses on supporting conditions in countries of origin for return.


  • On 29 November 2019, UNHCR, the Government of Burundi and the Government of Tanzania held the 21st meeting of the Tripartite Commission for the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees in Tanzania in Dar es Salaam. Prior to the Tripartite, a meeting of the Technical Working Group (TWG) of the Tripartite Commission took place on 27-28 November 2019.

  • During the Tripartite Commission meeting, UNHCR endeavoured to address the concerns of both governments and offer constructive ideas to enhance the program, while maintaining the commitments made to respect the voluntariness of refugees returns and ensure free and unhindered access for UNHCR to persons of concern in accordance with national and international laws.

  • A final Communiqué of the 21st Tripartite Commission meeting, together with the report of the TWG and the agreed upon workplan were shared at the end of proceedings.  No return convoys have taken place since 7 November 2019.


  • In the United Republic of Tanzania, UNHCR and the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania work in partnership with the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), HelpAge International, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Tanzanian Red Cross Society (TRCS), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Plan International, and the World Food Programme (WFP).

  • In Burundi, UNHCR is collaborating with the Department of Repatriation under the Government of Burundi, World Food Programme (WFP), International Rescue Committee (IRC), Caritas and the Civil Volunteer Group (GVC).