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UN says Rwandan refugees illegally forced out of Burundi

[JURIST] UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said in a statement Tuesday that 5,000 Rwandan refugees who fled to the Songore camp in Burundi to escape the 1994 genocide [BBC backgrounder] had been involuntarily returned to Rwanda on Sunday and Monday. Burundian authorities had declared the refugees "illegal immigrants" [JURIST report] over the weekend. UN officials alleged that the government actions violated the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the 1974 Organization of African Unity [official website] convention. In Geneva, UNHCR chief spokesman Ron Redmond said the UN refugee agency was not permitted [press release] to communicate with or access the refugees in Songore. The UN report conflicts with that of Burundi Interior Minister Jean Marie Ngendahayo, who said the refugees voluntarily repatriated to their home country. Reuters has more.

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