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UNHCR Chief of Staff welcomes progress in facilitating the return of Burundian refugees – KBC

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UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has welcomed the progress of the return of refugees to Burundi, urging the government to increase aid, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Thursday.

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“Concluding the two-day visit to Burundi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi praised the progress made in helping refugees find a lasting solution in the middle of the Great Lakes Region of Africa,” the agency said in a statement.

Grandi praised “the growing focus on finding a solution for refugees, especially Rwandans,” the statement said.

“The return of refugees places a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of the government, especially in ensuring security in return areas,” the commissioner was quoted as saying.

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The government should facilitate the resettlement of refugees through measures such as giving them access to property and services, and the ability to work and earn a living, Grandi said, warning that otherwise these people could end up relocating.

During his visit to Burundi, the commissioner met and discussed these issues with President Evariste Ndayishimiye, according to the statement. He commended the Burundian government for sheltering about 80,000 Congolese refugees despite facing major social and economic challenges.

In February, UNHCR, along with the Burundian government and nineteen other partners, launched a center called the Joint Refugee Repatriation and Rehabilitation Program, which aimed to raise $ 104.3 million internationally to help repatriate refugees. However, less than 10% of the required funds have so far been raised in Burundi despite an increase in the number of refugees, the statement said.

The UN Commissioner accompanied a convoy of 159 Burundian refugees returning home after years of deportation to neighboring Rwanda. In total since 2017, at least 145,000 Burundian refugees have been repatriated from Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo with UNHCR support, with an average weekly of 2,000 people.

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