Refugees escaping from Congo/Zaire
Burundian Hutu refugees living in the east of Congo/Zaire are being forced to go back home because of fighting between the Babembe tribe and the Banyamulenge-led government forces.
The Banyamulenge are of Tutsi origin and they formed the backbone of Laurent Kabila's forces that overthrew the Mobutu regime. The Babembe fighters have recently formed an alliance with Burundian Hutu rebels who oppose their country's Tutsi-led army.
At one time there were 140,000 Burundian refugees in the region of Uvira. They had escaped to Zaire after the murder by Tutsi troops of Burundi's first elected Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, in October 1993. This had resulted in the massacre of many Tutsis which was followed by an army repression of Hutus. This cycle of violence has been repeating itself since Burundi's independence from Belgium in 1962.
Some 110,000 of these refugees have been repatriated. The other 30,000 remain unaccounted for after they were displaced by the rebellion in October 1996. Of these some 100 are escaping back home every day. So far 2,500 have reached a transit centre at Gatumba on the border between the two countries.
|Burundi refugees flee fighting in Kabila's Congo|
Moscow's treatment of refugees criticized
In a report published recently, the organization Human Rights Watch/Helsinki made some very harsh criticism of the way in which the authorities in the Russian capital, Moscow, are treating refugees from other parts of the country or from the rest of the former Soviet Union.
The report says that the police sometimes do not even recognize the validity of UNHCR documents regarding refugee status. It describes the attitude of the police towards newcomers as "racist" and "predatory" especially when the people concerned have non-Slavic features.
More than 3,000 people were expelled by force from the city in 1996 for registration violations. Refugees detained by the police often have to pay large sums in bribes to avoid imprisonment or deportation.
RIGHTS WATCH ASSAILS MOSCOW'S TREATMENT OF REFUGEE
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An uncertain future for returning refugees
Tajik refugees and displaced persons returning home after a five-year civil war are facing an increasingly uncertain future after a resurgence of fighting between various armed factions.
An integral part of the peace agreement reached in May by government and Islamic opposition leaders was a massive repatriation program and some 3,000 refugees have already returned from camps in Afghanistan from mid-July.
There are, however, signs that not all groups are ready to adhere to the accords. Government troops have been involved in fighting with Islamic groups. Some Tajik army commanders still refuse to accept the agreement.
The fighting is affecting civilians, including repatriates. In August, a bus full of civilians was attacked.One refugee died, another was wounded.
The fighting is even creating new refugees. In the south, thousands were forced tocape and seek temporary refuge in nearby mountains. Hundreds crossed the border, seeking shelter in neighboring Uzbekistan.
violence creates repatriation confusion
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600 Congolese refugees repatriated
Six hundred Congolese refugees who had fled the former Zaire to escape an a seven-month uprising in which rebels ousted President Mobutu, were repatriated from the Lake Tanganyika port of Kigoma in Tanzania on 2 September. The repatriation process, involving mainly former civil servants and shopkeepers, was voluntary.
Some 74,000 of these refugees live in the area. Their repatriation was agreed upon by the two governments and the local mission of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Tanzania is at present home to some 300,000 refugees, coming mainly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Burundians, mostly members of the Hutu majority, are escaping fighting
between rebels from their ethnic group and the Tutsi-dominated army.
Central American refugees may obtain legal status
About 250,000 refugees from Central America may obtain legal status if the US Congress approves legislation being urged by some of its members to remove the threat of deportation from these people's lives.
The refugees entered the United States in the 1980's to escape dictaitorships and civil wars in countries such as Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. The expulsion of some 1,000 of them after a new emigration law came into effect in April had sparked off fears of mass deportation.
According to the law in force when the refugees entered the country, they would become eligible for permanent resident status after living in the US for seven years provided they did not have a criminal record and could prove they would be persecuted if they returned home.
The new law lengthened retroactively that period to 10 years
and made it much more difficult for refugees to prove they cannot return
home. Worse still, it established an annual quota for the number of immigrants
who could be given exemption from deportation. This was set at
4,000 per year.
Refugee News: More on U.S.A.