10-Feb-2023 00:06:37
As conditions in Burundi improve, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has emphasized UNHCR’s commitment to supporting refugees to return safely from countries of asylum, and their subsequent reintegration. UNHCR
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1. Wide shot, UNHCR vehicles with Burundian returnees crossing from DRC into Burundi
2. Med shot, UNHCR convoy with Burundian returnees on the road in Burundi
3. Med shot, Burundian returnees exiting a bus
4. Wide shot, returnees at a UNHCR transit center in Bujumbura
5. Med shot, children at the centre
6. Med shot, Aline Nilagira and her family at the centre
7. SOUNDBITE (Kiswahili) Aline Niagara, Burundian returnee:
“It has been over a year since we’ve been hearing from those who returned earlier. They told us to come back and that there was no problem in the country. There is no problem with the neighbors. That’s why we decided to come and here we are.”
8. Close up, registration documents being filled
9. Med shot, official filling in the details of the returnees
10. Close up, returnee’s fingerprints being taken
11. Med shot, UNHCR official helping the returnees with registration
12. SOUNDBITE (Kiswahili) Aline Niagara, Burundian returnee:
“My heart is at peace. Coming through the border, I could see that people are moving freely. Since I have been here, I have not heard any gunshots. I have not seen any people fleeing. I see that people are at peace.”


13. Wide shot, Odette Bikorimana, Burundian returnee walking towards her house
14. Med shot, Odette walking
15. Close up, Odette opens the door to her house
16. Med shot, various of grass roofing at Odette’s house
17. SOUNDBITE (Kirundi) Odette Bikorimana , Burundian returnee:
“The roof of the house I am living in currently is made from grass. It leaks when it rains. My neighbor I bought this plot of land from is providing shelter for some of my children in her house because mine is leaking and very small. I have five children. There are six of us in the family.”
18. Med shot, Odette arranging her charcoal
19. Wide shot, Odette selling charcoal
20. SOUNDBITE (Kirundi) Odette Bikorimana , Burundian returnee:
“It is difficult to get charcoal because it comes from far off in the mountains. The traders bring the charcoal here and each bag goes for about 20 US dollars. When I have many clients, part of the money I make, I use it to buy food from the market, like sweet potatoes. I cannot say it doesn’t help. The little profit I make, I use it to help my family.”
21. Wide shot, UN High Commissioner for refugees and the EU ambassador to Burundi being
welcomed by Odette Bikorimana at her house
22. Wide shot, Odette talking to them
23. Med shot, having a conversation with them
24. SOUNDBITE (English) Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees:
“It's very important in refugee situations not only to provide help when people flee in the emergency situations, but also to help them when they go back home. A voluntary, safe, dignified return is the best solution for any refugee. But it needs support. It needs support - the international support. It needs the support of UNHCR. We provide the returnees with some cash assistance. WFP provides some food for a few months, and we help them, especially the most vulnerable. For example, this particular family will receive a shelter kit to help repair the roof. But what is really important is two things. One is that people be included in national services and national development programs. And we had very good discussions with the president of Burundi. The Minister of Interior is accompanying me in this visit and there is a strong commitment by the government to do that. And second, it is also important that development partners deploy their own resources because what people need now is longer term help. And not only the returnees, but the communities to which they are going back to avoid different situations that may create the tensions.”
25. SOUNDBITE (French) Claude Bochu, EU ambassador:
“The Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and the European Union are global strategic
partners, and this type of visit is a sign of this partnership. We discuss together strategic priorities, the dialogue we are trying to have at the local level, and advocacy. Besides, I mean, it is heartbreaking for me. It is heart-wrenching to see the conditions in which people live here.”
As conditions in Burundi improve, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has emphasized UNHCR’s commitment to supporting refugees to return safely from countries of asylum, and their subsequent reintegration.

More than 200,000 Burundian refugees have been assisted by UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, to return voluntarily from neighbouring countries since 2017.

Wrapping up a two-day visit to the country, Grandi also expressed appreciation to President Evariste Ndayishime for Burundi’s efforts towards stabilization.

“We live in a world with only a few windows to pursue solutions for displacement. Too often, conflicts last for many years, but I am encouraged to see Burundian refugees making the choice to return after years in exile. We all need to work to ensure that their repatriation is sustainable,” said Grandi. “The efforts from the Government of Burundi and partners to assist Burundian refugees returning home are encouraging.”

Grandi visited the Rugombo area, where he met some of those who have recently returned and witnessed UNHCR’s and partners’ support for returnees as they rebuild their lives. Assistance includes transportation, food, a cash grant, and household items when they return to Burundi. Given the magnitude of the needs, UNHCR has decided to strengthen its support to returnees.

“However, we need development actors to help improve access to services and livelihoods in the communities where they are returning, which also need support. These are citizens of Burundi that need to be integrated into national development plans and initiatives,” Grandi added.

Burundi is also generously hosting 80,000 Congolese refugees. Grandi visited Cishemere transit center, in the northwest of the country bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where he met refugees fleeing brutal violence and attacks in Eastern DRC.

From Burundi, Grandi flew to Dodoma, Tanzania to meet President Samia Suluhu Hassan. Among the issues discussed was the progress made in creating conditions in Burundi more conducive for refugee return. Grandi also welcomed Tanzania’s long tradition of welcoming refugees and advocated for continued efforts to address the needs of those fleeing conflict.

Nearly 248,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly from Burundi and the DRC, live in Tanzania. The country hosts the largest number of Burundian refugees globally.

“Our teams will continue to work closely with the two Governments, partners, and donors, including development actors, to protect and find solutions for those displaced,” said Grandi.

In this context, UNHCR welcomes the recent announcement by the European Union to generously provide €40 million over the coming years to multiple partners supporting solutions in Burundi. The funding will ensure Burundian refugees in the region, as well as those who have returned home, have the support they need to live in safety and dignity. Assistance will include support for protection and resilience, legal assistance, gender-based violence prevention and response, literacy, and agricultural activities.
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