"Former Burundian Refugees Still in Need of Reintegration Support" says IOM

from International Organization for Migration
Published on 08 Oct 2013

Nine months after they returned home from the Mtabila Refugee Camp in western Tanzania, former Burundian refugees still face socio-economic challenges that hinder their effective reintegration into communities of return, according to IOM household socio-economic profiling conducted between 17 June and 24 August 2013.

The new data reveals acute needs in livelihood, access to health, water and sanitation and access to food, among Burundian returnees who left Mtabila Refugee Camp between 31 October and 11 December 2012.

Although all the former refugees are back to their respective communities of origin, their houses and livelihoods were destroyed during the civil war and after more than 15 years in Tanzania, they came back to find destroyed homes.

With funding from the European Commission-Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), IOM is working with the returnees to construct 2,000 shelters for a corresponding number of most vulnerable returnee households. “This means so much especially during this extremely wet season. Shelter is crucial because apart from the harsh elements, it provides them with security from people with ill intentions,” says Alex Gachara, Chief of Nyabutare in Burundi’s southern Province of Makamba.

IOM is also supporting returnees from 500 families to establish livelihood opportunities. Chief Gachara however feels that a lot more work needs to be done to stabilize the returnees’ livelihoods. “Lives have been lost due to preventable causes such as malaria. Those who have come back from Mtabila have challenges in accessing food,” adds Mr. Gachara.

The beneficiaries have taken up livelihood activities such as small scale bakeries, palm oil production, cassava processing, hair dressing and carpentry. In addition to the shelter and livelihood interventions, IOM has also designed a capacity building exercise for the livelihood beneficiaries. They will be provided with knowledge on how to manage their businesses and the associations that they have established.

The majority of the returnees have been re-absorbed in their areas of origin but have had to cope with destruction that was brought about by the civil strife in Burundi. The five provinces with the biggest number of returnees are Makamba, Rutana, Ruyigi, Gitega and Karusi.

For more information, please contact Norberto Celestino at IOM Burundi, Tel:+25777836179, Email: ncelestino@iom.int.

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