Almost 20,000 Rwandans who fled to neighboring countries during and after the 1994 genocide have been repatriated this year by the UN refugee agency, UN officials here said.
Staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have "repatriated 19,641 Rwandan refugees from neighboring countries since the beginning of the year", the UNHCR office in Kigali said, according to the UN news agency IRIN.
More than a million people from Rwanda's Hutu majority fled in 1994 as the mainly Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) seized power, ending the genocide of between half a million and 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus by then government troops and militias.
The UNHCR office in the Kenyan capital Nairobi stated that more than 25,000 Rwandan Hutus refugees have remained in a refugee camp at Ngara in northern Tanzania, including "new arrivals" who have fled instability which persists in Rwanda's southeastern Kibungo district.
However, IRIN reported that 2,238 refugees had gone back to Rwanda since September, as against 572 people who fled the small central African country, which is one of the most densely populated in the world, with an estimated 8.1 million people in July last year.
The breakdown of those to return this year, IRIN reported, was 17,866 from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1,266 from Tanzania, 119 from Congo, 247 from Uganda, 45 from Kenya, 61 from Burundi and 77 from other countries.
The UNHCR has reported that nearly 1.3 million Hutus returned to Rwanda in 1996 and early 1997 -- KIGALI (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )