In August 2008, Refugees International visited Burundi to assess the condition of former refugees repatriated from Tanzania and evaluate the efforts to assist them as they reintegrate into their communities. Out of more than 460,000 Burundian refugees who have returned home so far, 81,641 have returned in 2008 alone. This includes the return of some 20,000 refugees who fled in 1972. They have been away from their homes for over 25 years, they are facing huge challenges to their reintegration, and it remains difficult for them to recover their land and/or houses.
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Children with their belongings at the Mabanda Transit Centre: Many children repatriated from Tanzania have been forced to remain in the transit Center – some with their parents - for weeks. This is hampering their chances to be integrated into the school system in Burundi as soon as possible. Returning Men and Youngsters at Mabanda Transit Center: Many men and youngsters who returned from Tanzania are concerned about the kind of economic opportunities that they will have once they manage to recover or are allocated a house. Returning Women and Children in a Temporary Settlement: Families, mostly women-headed without any address, have been temporarily settled on Gitara II. Many of these women are widows, single mothers, and divorced women with children with little hope to get access to their husband’s or families’ land or house. Temporary Shelters Built by UNHCR: Hundreds of people, including many unaccompanied children, have returned to Burundi because they have been or were in fear of being expelled by the authorities from Tanzania. Kibago Commune Building: Many among the 1972 caseload are facing difficulty recovering their land/house in Kibago, where most of them have been forced to temporarily occupy the commune’s buildings. Temporary Shelters in Kibago: Because there is not enough space in the commune’s buildings, many returnees are simply sheltering in the open sky with their belongings. Muriza Peace Village: Muriza peace village, a UNHCR initiated project, has been built to hosts families of Tutsi IDPs, and of Hutu returnee women chosen from among the most vulnerable.