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Burundian repatriation

I’ve written a lot about the Burundian refugees who’ve resettled in Fredericksburg. Many of them have lived in refugee camps since 1972. In the past year, the United Nations’ refugee committee has been repatriating many refugees back into Burundi. Human rights groups and the refugees settled here in Fredericksburg have been waiting to see how this will go. Most of the refugees I’ve spoken with have family back in the camps and are not happy to hear they will go back home. They worry there won’t be any land or future in Burundi. And they are still scared that fighting remains from the civil war that made them flee their homes. UNHCR officials said the country is now safe and that the repatriation efforts are voluntary. Today, the committee announced that it has escorted 244 Burundians from refugee camp in Congo back to Burundi. Officials expect to repatriate 10,000 Burundians in the next few months.

From the UNHCR story:

This UNHCR writer accompanied some of the returnees on one of the trucks making the two-hour journey from a transit centre in Uvira to Burundi. It turned into a joyful affair, with the refugees singing for much of the way and dancing when they reached the Gatumba crossing and saw the Burundian flag.

Once in Burundi, some of the women in the lead vehicle recognized the roads they had used when fleeing to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In their excitement, they shouted directions to the driver as they approached the Mutumbizi transit centre near the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, where they had a hot meal.

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