Burundi : Situation Report - 7 October 2019
- Over 75,000 Burundian refugees returned through the voluntary repatriation process since September 2017
- Efforts to combat cholera in Burundi continue
- FAO’s sustainable food production project shows significant success
- UNFPA Burundi contributes to efforts to prevent and respond to Gender-Based Violence
- UNICEF and World Bank join forces on education
Over 75,000 Burundian refugees returned through the voluntary repatriation process since September 2017
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners* have supported over 75,000 refugees return voluntarily to Burundi since September 2017. These returns were formalized by the tripartite meeting of Tanzania, Burundi and UNHCR in February 1998.
From September 2017 to the end of August 2019, over 75,000 Burundian refugees were repatriated, mainly from Tanzania, of whom 74,627 returnees received an initial return package consisting of a financial allocation, basic non-food supplies, and food for each household.
According to the protection monitoring conducted in areas of return, returnees often require a wide range of assistance, including access to education, health care, food supplies and water provision.
In February 2019, the convoys reached their peak, with 3,478 refugee returns. From September 2017 to September 2019, there has been an average monthly return rate of around 3,300 refugees, although this has continuously decreased since January 2019.
Over half of returnees are women and children (who constitute 57 per cent of repatriates) and two out of three households are headed by women who are either single or at-risk.
In addition, 1,059 of returnee children are unaccompanied or separated from their families. Under the Tripartite agreement and prior to repatriation, research is being conducted to trace families and reunite these children with their biological families (led by the International Commission for the Red Cross). Over 85 per cent of school-age children were able to return to school, however 73 per cent of children under 12 do not have birth certificates and therefore do not have access to education.
In August 2019, the Governments of Tanzania and Burundi signed a bilateral agreement to repatriate all Burundian refugees from Tanzania, with the aim of dispatching convoys of 2,000 returnees per week as of 1 October 2019, with or without UNHCR's participation. According to UNHCR data, over 343,000 Burundians are still in neighbouring countries, including over 180,000 in Tanzania.
The humanitarian community is committed to supporting the Government of Burundi in its efforts to ensure a dignified, safe and voluntary return. The returnees also require support beyond the scope of humanitarian assistance to ensure their reintegration into their communities.
On 22 August 2019, UNHCR and the United Nations Development Programme presented the Joint Refugee Return and Reintegration Plan to representatives of the Government of Burundi, chiefs of UN agencies and partners involved in the plan implementation. The required budget to support the repatriation and reintegration activities amounts to US$ 77,863,883.
- The voluntary repatriation process is being facilitated by the UNHCR and its partners - the governments of Tanzania and Burundi, the World Food Programme, the International Organization for Migration, the International Rescue Committee, Caritas Burundi, Gruppo di Volontariato Civile, the Tanzania and Burundi Red Cross Societies, the Danish Refugee Council, the Norwegian Refugee Council, HelpAge, and Plan International.