BUJUMBURA February 2nd (ABP) – The Coordinator of the National Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons at the Ministry of Interior, Community Development and Public Security, Mr. Samuel Ndayisenga, opened on Tuesday January 31, 2023, a two-day meeting of representatives of member countries of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), with the objective of exchanging experiences and finding comprehensive durable solutions for refugees in the Great Lakes region.
According to Mr. Ndayisenga, in Burundi, the majority of refugees are of Congolese origin. They cannot return to their countries following the war which continues in the East of the DRC. Unfortunately, he pointed out, the government of Burundi cannot give them the Burundian citizenship because it already knows a strong demography.
Taking the floor, the Deputy Representative of the UNHCR in Burundi, Mrs. Marie Louise Kabre Barreto, said that the Great Lakes sub-region is experiencing a resurgence of violence and forced displacements, particularly in the eastern DRC. She also said that since 2017, more than 200,000 Burundian refugees have been voluntarily repatriated from neighboring countries.
According to Mrs. Kabre Barreto, those returnees as well as the host communities deserve financial support from donors and strong socio-economic support from development partners, particularly in the areas recording the return of returnees. She also recalled that the government of Burundi and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), organized a high-level round table in Bujumbura on November 2, 2022, in order to strengthen support for the return and reintegration of Burundian refugees.
She pointed out that, of the nearly 468 million refugees currently living in the Great Lakes region, more than half live in protracted asylum situations exceeding a period of 5 years or more and that more than 20% of refugees are born in exile. Given these data, she said, a new model for responding to refugee crises is needed, which promotes mobility, access to employment and self-employment. In short, refugees must be made more productive to achieve self-sufficiency and UNHCR is committed to supporting the ICGLR so that its partner efforts bear fruit, she insisted.
The Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union, Mr. Antonio Capone, recalled that the ultimate objective of the EU is to ensure that migration takes place in a safe and regular manner by protecting the human rights of migrants and providing international protection to those in need. He also said that the EU initiative will remain mobilized in the search for durable solutions for long-term refugees in the Great Lakes region.