Half of Burundians displaced in 2002 have returned home, UN says

Half of Burundians displaced in 2002 have returned home, UN says

The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Burundi has dropped by half, as people have returned home in the past two years, mainly to the southern provinces, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.

Some 140,000 IDPs remain out of the 281,000 who fled their homes in 2002, OCHA said after conducting a new survey in March and April of those in the IDP camps with help from the Burundian Ministry for the Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Displaced and Repatriated Persons, as well as the National Commission for the Rehabilitation of Disaster-affected People.

The rate of return of the IDPs had speeded up near the end of 2003 and some 58 per cent of the 28,679 displaced families surveyed expressed their willingness to return home in the near future, OCHA said.

"The reasons they gave for wanting to return were the poor living conditions in the camps, the government's prodding for them to go home, the IDPs' desire to reclaim their properties before the arrival of Burundian refugees from Tanzania and because of the improved security situation in their home areas," OCHA said.

Some 44 per cent of the people still living in IDP camps were in the provinces of Gitega, Kayanza, Kirundo, Muyinga, Muramvya, Ngozi and Karuzi, OCHA said.

People displaced temporarily because of fighting and IDPs living with host families were not surveyed, it added.