U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1999 - Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso hosted about 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers at the end of 1997. An estimated 17,000 refugees repatriated from Burkina Faso during the year, primarily to Mali.

Malian refugees, primarily ethnic Tuaregs, fled to Burkina Faso in recent years to escape fighting between the government and an armed insurgency in their own country. Peace agreements in Mali have encouraged refugees to return home. A small number of Tuareg refugees from Niger also fled to Burkina Faso.

A December 1996 census fixed the number of Tuareg refugees in Burkina Faso at about 25,000. Most resided at 11 rural sites in the north of the country.

General food assistance to refugees ended in mid-1997, and primary schools closed at the end of the 1996-97 school year, in conjunction with a repatriation program, UNHCR reported.

Repatriation to Mali sharply accelerated in 1997, when nearly 17,000 refugees repatriated, primarily during the last half of the year, according to UNHCR. About 400 refugees in Burkina Faso repatriated to Niger, UNHCR said.

Refugees who registered to repatriate received a three-month food ration and household items prior to their departure. Other refugees may have repatriated to Mali spontaneously, without first registering with UNHCR. Only several hundred Malian refugees remained at two sites in Burkina Faso at year's end. (They reportedly repatriated in early 1998.)

Nearly 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers from more than 30 countries lived in urban areas of Burkina Faso at the end of 1997, UNHCR reported. More than 500 had formally been recognized under UNHCR's mandate. UNHCR provided basic care and maintenance programs consisting of food assistance and health, shelter, and education programs. UNHCR's budget in Burkina Faso during 1997 was about $1 million.


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