Burundi: Still no end to displacement, despite political progress


Several hundred thousand internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees have returned home since 2003, due to the general improvement of security in Burundi, following the signing of ceasefire agreements between the government and several rebel groups. Hopes that the remaining rebel group, the National Liberation Forces (FNL), would make peace with the new government elected in mid-2005 have so far been disappointed. The pace of return slowed down at the end of 2005, and more people were displaced around the capital.
From the early 1990s, hundreds of thousands of Burundians had fled their homes to escape fighting between the government and Hutu rebel groups seeking to put an end to the political dominance of the Tutsi minority. Many others, predominantly Hutus, were forcibly displaced into camps by the government in the second half of the 1990s. The number of IDPs peaked in 1999, with over 800,000 displaced, 12 per cent of the population. More than 300,000 people have died as a result of the conflict which has been accompanied by widespread human rights violations. According to the United Nations' latest estimate, close to 117,000 people remained in camps as of mid-2005. In addition, an unknown number of IDPs were living with host families, mostly in urban centres.

Donors have pledged to fund a government programme covering emergency needs for 2006, including support for the voluntary return or resettlement of IDPs. But in order to support durable solutions for the displaced and provide protection against future displacement, a comprehensive IDP policy, based on the findings of the latest survey,needs to be finalised and implemented.

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