Burundi UN appeals for urgent funding as refugees pour back home

August was the second month running that the number of returnees broke the 10,000 barrier, but UNHCR warned that its appeal for $21 million for 2004 and a further $62.23 million for 2005 is severely under-funded, with repatriation expected to total 300,000 people for the two years.”Unless we receive funds for this appeal in the coming weeks, we may have to stop our voluntary repatriation programme to Burundi by the end of the month,” UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva. “We expect the demand to remain strong,” she stressed.The great majority returned in convoys from camps over the border, mainly from Tanzania, but others have come from Uganda, Kenya, the Central African Republic, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and further afield. Just last week, a family of four was repatriated from Beijing.In Tanzania, some 260,000 refugees are in camps, with another 470,000 dispersed throughout the country. UNHCR’s overall planning figure for repatriation is 400,000, with 150,000 returning in 2004, and a similar number in 2005. read more