UN refugee operation given high marks by US Government study

“Near-complete repatriation and reintegration are facts of life and were achieved with an indispensable contribution from the programme of assisted return,” according to the study commissioned by the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has assisted with the return of nearly 500,000 people, or 6 per cent of the population, over the past seven years, mostly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Tanzania.The report, compiled by independent experts, was intended by PRM, one of the main sponsors for UNHCR’s Burundi programme, to assess its impact on the return and reintegration of Burundian refugees.Most refugees interviewed for the study said that they had benefited from their returnee status in Burundi, with families who had been back in their home country for four years in similar living conditions to those who had never fled.UNHCR has “ensured comprehensive physical, legal and economic protection of Burundian refugees during their repatriation,” the experts found, but pointed to challenges that remain such as access to land, overcrowded schools and lack of food security. 21 April 2009The assisted voluntary repatriation operation scheme run by the United Nations refuge agency has been praised in a report commissioned by the United States Government, which has hailed aspects of the programme as being the “best practice responses” to refugee and humanitarian crises in general. read more