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Refugees have fled Burundi's civil war

BBC News, 9 February 2000

The Burundian Government has begun carrying out its promise to the United Nations Security Council last month to close 11 of its controversial relocation camps.

Balthazar Ntamahungiro, governor of Bujumbura-Rural province, said about 2,000 people were making their way home on Wednesday morning, after being released from Maramvya camp.

Maramvya is the first of the camps to close. Just north of the capital, Bujumbura, it housed nearly 5,000 people.

The Tutsi-dominated Burundian army forced more than 300,000 civilians, mostly Hutus, into about 60 camps in late September, as part of its policy of trying to isolate Hutu rebels.

The camps were sharply criticised by the new peace mediator for Burundi, the former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Peace process

Last week the Burundi Government set 7 February as the date it would begin dismantling 11 of the 50 camps.

But officials have not yet indicated which of the camps will be the next to close after Maramvya.

The government originally declared that the camps near Bujumbura would be the last to close, because of security problems, but it said on Friday that security had now been restored.

Peace talks are due to resume later this month.