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Tanzania - Burundi

Thousands of Burundian refugees granted Tanzanian citizenship

Reuters

Tanzania has granted citizenship to 162,000 refugees from Burundi who fled ethnic violence nearly 40 years ago, in what the UN and rights groups have called one of the most generous gestures ever made to refugees.

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The UN High Commissioner for Refugees “expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the people and the leadership of Tanzania describing this action as historic,” said spokesperson Melissa Flemming.

“He also called on the international community to recognize Tanzania’s gesture, and appeal to donors to respond positively to assure that the process of integrating these new citizens is fully successful,” she said.

Thousands of Burundians who fled ethnic violence that left 200,000 people dead four decades ago have been living in Tanzania, the African country with one of the largest refugee populations.

Many have returned home to Burundi since a peace process began in 2002. In 2008, the Tanzanian government offered to either grant citizenship to those remaining, or to repatriate them.

Some 54,000 refugees who chose to return are back in their homeland, and another, final group headed home late last year.

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