The Tanzanian government has closed the Nduta camp for Burundian
refugees in northwestern Tanzania. The United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees says the camp was closed earlier this week
after it relocated the remaining 10,000 refugees from Nduta to Mtabila
Nduta camp closer was a significant moment for Burundi refugees. Now
only the Mtabila camp in Tanzania will host the thousands of Burundians
who fled their homeland during the violence of the 1990s.
that time, hundreds of thousands of Burundians fled civil war in their
country. Only 46,450 Burundians from that wave of refugees remain in
U.N. refugee agency spokesman Ron Redmond says
Tanzania has been an extremely generous host. For almost four decades,
he notes, Tanzania has sheltered hundreds of thousands of Burundian
refugees who fled ethnic tensions and armed conflict.
the first big exodus occurred in the early 1970s followed by a second
big influx in the 1990s. He says in 2000, Burundians were one of the
largest refugee populations in the world, second only to Afghan
"So, we are preparing now to scale down quite
dramatically there because there have been hundreds of thousands of
returnees going back over the years - 63,000 alone this year," said
Redmond. "And, also the Tanzanian government has agreed to locally
integrate many of the Burundians who remain in the country. So,
solutions are being found."
In 2002, the UN refugee agency
began the voluntary repatriation of Burundians who fled their country
in the 1990s. In addition, thousands returned unassisted. The UNHCR
calls it one of the most successful operations on the African
It estimates more than 470,000 Burundians have returned home from Tanzania and other asylum countries over the past six years.
says Tanzania is one of the few countries in the world that has offered
durable solutions to refugees who cannot, or do not wish, to return
He says some refugees have lived in exile for decades and
feel more at home in Tanzania than in Burundi. Many were born in
Tanzania and have never been to Burundi. And still others, he says,
may have political reasons for not wanting to return to Burundi.
says Tanzania has offered local integration, including naturalization
and citizenship to those refugees who wish to remain in the country.
He says about 165,000 Burundian refugees applied for citizenship this
year. He says these applications now are being processed.