Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) told refugees in Burundi yesterday who want to return to volatile South Kivu province that it was not ready to receive them there, a Burundian official said.
More than 5 million people have died in conflict in Congo since 1998.
Earlier this week Burundian police fired in the air to stop about 2300 ethnic Tutsi refugees crossing the border. The group has refused to move to a new camp in eastern Burundi.
“Congolese officials came here and indicated that they were not ready to receive the refugees at the moment,” Didace Nzikoruriho, head of Burundi’s state-run refugee protection board, told reporters on the DRC border at Gatumba.
“We think the Congolese authorities need more time to prepare themselves it is not easy to receive such a large number of people coming back.”
The UN refugee agency UNHCR said it had cautioned the group of refugees against returning home because of insecurity in South Kivu.
A DRC government delegation was due in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura today to discuss the case, Nzikoruriho added.
“The refugees will have to stay for some days at their old camp … while they wait for the outcome of the meeting between our two governments,” he said.
“Meanwhile, we will give them food and other necessary assistance.”