BUJUMBURA February 13th (ABP) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Filippo Grandi, promises that the UNHCR will continue to support Burundi in the repatriation and reintegration of refugees and has promised an envelope of approximately 40 million euros which will facilitate the repatriation process and the reintegration of returnees into their development activities.
He was speaking on Thursday February 9, 2023 in Bujumbura, during a press conference jointly hosted with the head of the European Union delegation, Mr. Claude Bochu.
According to him, reintegration presents many challenges that must be met. For those who have spent many years in exile, reintegration is complex and requires specific assistance, he said. He recalled that in addition to financial assistance, they enjoy special three-month food assistance provided by the World Food Program (WFP).
He further indicated that in recent years, the WFP has had cuts in the supply of food due to financial and underfunding difficulties, but that the injections of additional funding from the United States have made it possible to finish the year 2022 without too many cuts.
Grandi also seized the opportunity to ask the Burundian authorities to include the repatriated component in the development policy because, having arrived in their native country, they no longer have refugee status but acquire citizenship but who, all the same, have specific needs.
He also believes that it is important that even host communities must be supported to ensure effective reintegration: “We must not forget that returnees return to communities that also have needs. We need to provide assistance that covers the entire host community,” he said.
However, Grandi admits that the UNHCR is not, at all, a development agency from which he appeals to development partners, in particular the World Bank and the African Development Bank, to support in that direction.
Filippo Grandi commends the openness of Burundi, which continues to welcome refugees from the DRC and other countries, despite the few challenges it faces: “I will applaud the generosity of Burundi. It is a country that is fighting poverty and emerging from several periods of crisis and keeping its borders open,” he admires.
Regarding 130,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania, he said that the UNHCR is ready to accompany them if they decide to return to their native land.
According to Claude Bochu, following the regional approach of the UNHCR and ECHO (European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations), for the management of forced displacements, the EU has intensified its action with the mobilization of regional funds of 40 million euros aimed at providing durable solutions for Burundian refugees and returnees in the Great Lakes region.
That program will strive to meet the essential needs of Burundian refugees in asylum countries in terms of protection and resilience and will contribute, for those who wish, to their integration into host countries through specific projects that will benefit both refugees and host communities at the same time, he added. It will also contribute to creating favorable conditions for a sustainable return to Burundi by responding to the challenges hindering the socio-economic reintegration of returnees,” he continued to say.