The 2019 Joint Refugee Return and Reintegration Plan is an integrated inter-agency response plan with both humanitarian and development-oriented components, designed to offer a safe and dignified repatriation to Burundian refugees returning from the sub region and to promote their resilience and sustainable reintegration. The stakes of achieving the aims of this inter-agency plan are high, fo Burundian refugee returns and the most vulnerable community members in the main areas of return and to reinforce social cohesion, peace and stability in the Great Lakes Region as a whole.
The latest developments in Burundi in 2017 and 2018 have provided an opportunity to pursue durable solutions for some of those displaced since April 2015, including more than 77,000 Burundian refugees who were assisted to voluntarily return from Tanzania, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (with additional numbers having returned on their own from Rwanda and possibly Uganda). Burundi has accomplished some progress, notably the stabilisation of the country following the 2015 crisis and the announcement of the May 2020 election, which will give an indication of progress. However, the socio-political and economic situation in Burundi has also continued to adversely impact the lives of Burundians, including refugee returnees who are among the most vulnerable segment of the population. The planning figure of 72,000 Burundian refugees to return in 2018, projected at the March 2018 Tripartite meeting, was not fully realised due to constraints on sending and receiving capacity as well as the impact of the temporary suspension of the voluntary repatriation exercise in October 2018.
Considering the current socio-economic and political situation, it is imperative that humanitarian and development stakeholders, both at provincial and communal levels, work jointly to support a sustainable return and reintegration process. The reintegration process should allow refugee returnees to return in safety and dignity and enjoy the same rights as other citizens. In this regard, it is fundamental that social cohesion remains central to the design of projects for refugee returnees.