Burundi has said that a first group of its refugees in Tanzania would return home on Thursday, as a mass repatriation planned by the two governments begins.
The Burundi government’s general manager for repatriation, Nestor Bimenyimana, said that about 1,000 refugees are in the first group. He added that the process is “voluntary”.
Burundi and Tanzania agreed in August that repatriations of 200,000 Burundi refugees in Tanzania would start on Oct. 1, sparking fears of forced returns among some of those who crossed the border to escape violence.
Hundreds of Burundians have been killed in clashes with security forces since 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third, disputed term in office. Over the same period, more than 400,000 have fled abroad, predominantly to Tanzania, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.