The Policy Response to Repatriation and Reintegration in Burundi

Funding: PDES UNHCR small research grant
Researchers: Sonja Fransen & Katie Kuschminder
Research assistant: Charlotte Feitscher

Project description
This research project focused on the challenges that repatriation and reintegration pose to different actors (government bodies, international organizations and NGOs) and individuals in Burundi. Burundi currently finds itself at a crossroad, recovering from a long period of conflict and moving towards economic recovery and development. During this transition phase Burundi has welcomed more than 500,000 former refugees, mostly coming from neighboring country Tanzania, back home. The return of these former refugees puts additional pressure on Burundi’s scarce resources such as land. In addition, the reintegration process is challenging due to structural problems of poverty, unemployment and lack of infrastructure. As a result of the current transition phase, in which Burundi is changing its status from a post-conflict country that receives vast amounts of humanitarian aid to a developing country, several international organizations and international NGOs are slowly withdrawing their activities in the country. The first question is whether or not the repatriation and especially the reintegration of Burundians that lived abroad have been successful. The second question is how the transition from humanitarian aid to develop affects both repatriates and residents in their communities.

To analyse the policy response to repatriation and reintegration, 30 in-depth interviews were done with government officials, NGOs, and representatives from international organizations in Burundi over a two-week period in October 2011. In addition, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with both repatriates and non-repatriates were done in Makamba province, which is located in the south of the country. To give an overview of current repatriation and reintegration processes, the research also made use of a data set constructed by the Migration and Development: A World in Motion project team from the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance in Burundi between January and April 2011. This dataset contains data from a nationally representative household survey covering 1500 households and 100 communities throughout Burundi.

Expected output
The output of the research project will consist of a paper that will be published in UNHCR’s New Issues in Refugee Research working paper series and academic publications in respected scientific journals. The results of the study will also be communicated to the participants of the research, which include both local and international NGOs, International Organizations and government officials.