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Burundi: displaced civilians begin returning home

Burundi: displaced civilians begin returning home amid capital's 'relative calm'

The United Nations reported "relative calm" in Bujumbura today as civilians who have fled the Burundian capital over the past week amid fierce fighting between government forces and rebels began to return to their homes.

According to a spokesperson in New York, UN humanitarian officials said the flow of internally displaced persons into Bujumbura has now ceased, with significant numbers returning home from their impromptu settlements in the capital's southern suburbs.

The majority of families who had sought shelter from fighting last week remain at their site near the National Unity Monument. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has provided them with a seven-day ration while Médecins sans Frontiers (MSF) and Italian Cooperation continue to provide basic health, water and sanitation services.

Clashes between the Palipehutu-Forces Nationales de Libération (FNL-Rwasa) rebel group and the Armed Forces of Burundi (FAB) erupted in southern neighbourhoods of Bujumbura nearly two weeks ago. Mortar fire and shelling rocked the capital for days, leaving over 100 dead and displacing an estimated 15,000. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and other agencies have expressed concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the city and have struggled to assist waves of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

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