Hundreds of Rwandans returning from Burundi

At least 1,000 of the nearly 7,000 Hutu Rwandans who fled their country in April have returned home, a Rwandan government official told IRIN on Friday.

"We visited these people in their camps in Burundi and told them there was no need for them to flee," Charles Ntakirutimana, the mayor of Mugombwa District, told IRIN. The district borders Burundi.

Many of the Rwanda's Hutu said they fled because they feared unfair treatment in the new village-level "gacaca" courts that the government recently created to speed up trials of suspects of the 1994 genocide.

Speaking on local Rwanda radio, some refugees said they fled their homes fearing possible revenge killings after people heard testimonies being given at the gacaca courts. The courts are a new version of traditional Rwanda justice.

Since April, at least 5,000 Rwandan Hutus fled into Burundi; another 1,200 crossed into Uganda.

"We are telling them that gacaca would not victimise anyone," Ntakirutimana said. "We have established a task force which is visiting people in the camps and mobilising them to return."

The task force consists of mayors from Butare Province, as well as officials from the central government, he said.

Ntakirutimana said on Wednesday that the taskforce returned from Burundi with 230 of Hutu Rwandans.

Many were also now crossing back into Rwanda by themselves. Others are being driven back by truck, he said.