DAR ES SALAAM, May 10 (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency said on Thursday 72,000 Burundian refugees will be repatriated from Tanzania between April 5 and December 31, this year.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement that an agreement to repatriate the refugees was jointly made by Tanzania, Burundi and the UN refugee agency.
The statement said the repatriation of the Burundian refugees was agreed at the 20th meeting of the Tripartite Commission for the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees in Tanzania held in the Burundi capital Bujumbura on March 28, this year.
The voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees continued until March 29 when a convoy transporting 515 Burundian returnees from Nduta refugee camp to Songore transit center in Ngozi province in Burundi was involved in an accident near Ngara town in Kagera region in Tanzania, said the statement.
The statement said the accident left eight people dead, including six refugees, one International Organization for Migration (IOM) staff and one bystander.
The government of Tanzania, UNHCR, and its partners quickly mobilized to provide assistance to the Burundian refugees following the tragedy, said the statement.
During a review meeting between the government of Tanzania, UNHCR, and IOM, it was agreed that the voluntary repatriation exercise would be temporarily put on hold until mid-April and standard operating procedures reviewed, said the statement.
The statement said UNHCR will continue to support the operation to ensure that the repatriations were carried out in a sustainable and durable manner, based on the principles of voluntariness and informed decisions, and took place in safety and dignity.
There are 270,629 Burundian refugees and asylum-seekers living in Tanzania, and 84 percent of them have been in Tanzania since April 2015.