Refugees International condemns the September 15, 2017 massacre in the Kamanyola transit site in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, in which at least 39 Burundians were killed.
As an organization that continues to advocate for the protection of displaced Burundians, Refugees International was concerned by comments attributed to the Ugandan Minister for Disaster Preparedness and Refugees on February 15, 2017.
But make no mistake: What keeps Burundi “quiet” these days is not peace, but fear. And the need for a robust United Nations mission to protect Burundian civilians is as acute as ever.
In March 2015, the first Burundian refugees began arriving in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), fleeing persecution and fearing an all-out war at home. Since then, just over 20,000 have come – a relatively small number, compared with today’s other refugee crises. But donors and the United Nations have struggled to meet the needs, leaving many refugees feeling frustrated and abandoned.
My colleague Michael Boyce and I spent the past week meeting with Burundian refugees in South Kivu. There are around 16,000 Burundians living at the Lusenda refugee site, as well as another 5,000 or more residing with host communities in villages to the north and south of Uvira. Though the numbers might appear small for a refugee crisis, the context is complex and volatile and requires a robust and well-resourced response.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the largest and most populous countries in Africa; so almost inevitably, any problem in the DRC is a big problem. In previous years, Refugees International has traveled to the DRC to report on internal displacement and gender-based violence – tragedies that afflict millions of Congolese civilians.
The crisis in Burundi has forced the flight of more than 220,000 refugees, half of whom are female.
Refugees International is deeply concerned that asylum in Rwanda is being undermined.
Since April 2015, Burundi has been descending into chaos.
Being forced to flee your home is a life-altering experience. Packing a bag, bidding farewell to your land and livelihood, and leading your children into the unknown – all of this can indelibly divide a life history into ‘before’ and ‘after.’ Many people never get over the trauma of flight, and never give up hope…