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The Burundian refugees returning home from Rwanda

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UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Fillipo Grandi urges for more support to help Burundian refugees choosing to go back home. He met a group travelling from Rwanda and heard first-hand about their hopes and concerns. Ending a two-day visit to Burundi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi praised progress made towards helping refugees find long-term solutions in the heart of Africa’s Great Lakes Region.

Donatien fled Burundi in 2016 with his family. He is moving back home from Rwanda with his wife and three children. He has kept touch with friends and family back home and decided it was time to return. 

He plans to rent a house and find any job to support his family.

Since 2017 at least 145,000 Burundian refugees have been assisted to return home with more than 25,000 coming from Rwanda in recent months. On average, 2,000 people are being assisted to voluntarily return each week from Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.

The High Commissioner accompanied the most recent convoy from Rwanda transporting 159 Burundian refugees returning home after years of living in exile. 

He spoke to families who were aware of the challenges awaiting them, but expressed happiness to finally be going home.Grandi reiterated UNHCR’s commitment to continue to facilitate the return of Burundian refugees who have made an informed and voluntary choice to go back.

In February, UNHCR together with the government of Burundi and 19 partners launched the Joint Refugee Return and Reintegration Plan which appeals for US$104.3 million from the international community to assist returnees and the communities where they are returning. 

Less than ten percent of the funding needed to support re-integration in Burundi has been committed, despite the increase of refugees returning from around the region.