Burundi + 1 more

Burundi: Guarded optimism that long-term IDPs may achieve durable solutions


4 March 2015 Anaïs Pagot , Melanie Wissing

As of January 2015, up to 77,600 Burundians continue to live in protracted displacement, mainly in settlements in central and northern Burundi. They were displaced by inter-ethnic and inter-communal violence following a coup d’état in 1993 and subsequent fighting between government forces and armed groups. Security has improved since the last armed group laid down its arms in 2008. Concerns remain that tensions in neighbouring countries could increase the numbers of internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees. Burundi remains among the world’s poorest countries, currently ranked 180 out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index (UNDP, 2014). The enormous challenges for all Burundians in accessing healthcare, education and livelihoods are even greater for IDPs and former IDPs, including those who have returned to places of origin.

The government and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have launched a pilot project to support returns of IDPs which has already benefited to at least 1,300 IDPs. The majority of IDPs wish to integrate locally and achieve durable solutions in their place of displacement (unpublished report, MNSDPH and UNHCR, July 2014, on file with IDMC). For many IDPs, concerns about security, access to services and livelihoods prevent return to places of origin.

The government belatedly established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in May 2014, mandated to investigate the inter-ethnic massacres that occurred between 1962 and 2008, identify perpetrators and promote reconciliation. In addition, in September 2014 it created a judicial body to address land issues.

There is tension in the run-up to June 2015 presidential, parliamentary and local elections, amid speculation that the current president, Pierre Nkurunziza, might seek a third term despite constitutional limitations allowing only two. The elections could mark an important turning point in consolidating peace and democracy but also have potential to trigger fresh displacement.

Map: Burundi: internal displacement as of March 2015