DODOMA, Tanzania — The U.N. refugee agency has started repatriating hundreds of Burundian refugees back home from neighboring Tanzania.

Emmanuel Maganga, government commissioner for the Kigoma region in northwestern Tanzania, said 300 refugees returned home Thursday using public transport.

At least 12,000 Burundian refugees have signed up for voluntary repatriation. Maganga said the initial agreement with U.N. officials says 300 Burundians will be repatriated every week.

More than 240,000 Burundian refugees are sheltering in Tanzania. Most of them fled political violence in 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans to seek a disputed third term that he ultimately won.

Tanzania’s government has been putting pressure on UNHCR to facilitate the repatriation of those refugees who want to return home.

Burundi’s government says the country is now peaceful.

Author photo
The Associated Press
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.