The Burundian government on Wednesday accused the UN Refugee Agency of "deliberately fabricating" figures of Burundian refugees.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) does not accept that some refugees have returned home from exile and boosts refugee figures to get jobs, said Terence Ntahiraja, assistant to the Burundian interior minister, when responding to UNHCR's appeals for funds to support Burundian refugees in 2018.
UNHCR on Tuesday said in a statement that UNHCR and its partners launched an appeal for 391 million U.S. dollars to support 430,000 Burundian refugees this year, saying more cash was urgently needed to prevent it from becoming a forgotten crisis.
Since 2015, more than 400,000 refugees and asylum-seekers have fled Burundi, escaping human rights abuses, continued political uncertainty and the related humanitarian crisis, said the statement.
It also said that refugee numbers are expected to increase by over 50,000 this year as regional efforts to resolve the political crisis in the country have not made significant progress.
Ntahiraja, however, described the figures of the refugees given by UNHCR as "lies." "The UNHCR is claiming that over 430,000 Burundian refugees went into exile since 2015 and live in refugee camps.
The figure is wrong because over 200,000 of them have already returned home," said Ntahiraja.