icon caret Arrow Down Arrow Left Arrow Right Arrow Up Line Camera icon set icon set Ellipsis icon set Facebook Favorite Globe Hamburger List Mail Map Marker Map Microphone Minus PDF Play Print RSS Search Share Trash Crisiswatch Alerts and Trends Box - 1080/761 Copy Twitter Video Camera  copyview Whatsapp Youtube
Refugees and Internally Displaced in Burundi (II)
Refugees and Internally Displaced in Burundi (II)
Table of Contents
  1. Overview
Any Hope Left For Diplomacy Over Ukraine?
Any Hope Left For Diplomacy Over Ukraine?
Briefing 17 / Africa

Refugees and Internally Displaced in Burundi (II)

The International Crisis Group is publishing a series of reports on the problems of repatriation for Burundi; the first report, Burundi’s Refugees: Defusing the Land Time-bomb,* emphasises how both the transitional government and the international community have thus far given too little attention to this issue, which is essential for lasting peace in the region. This report, Refugees and Internally Displaced in Burundi The Urgent Need for a Consensus on their Repatriation and Reintegration, explores the urgent need for a consensus on repatriation and reintegration of refugees and internally displaced in Burundi. 

I. Overview

While everyone is hoping for a permanent suspension of hostilities in Burundi, too little consideration is being given to what will happen when peace is reached and over one million uprooted Burundians rush home. The lack of planning for the eventual mass return of refugees and displaced persons, and the land questions it raises, risk destabilising any transition to peace right from the outset.

"A final cease-fire agreement, however elusive it might seem today, carries the risk that a great many people who were uprooted will return to a country not yet prepared to receive them", said Dr François Grignon, Central Africa Project Director for ICG.

The main victims of the war in Burundi, refugees and displaced persons, have been waiting for the dividends of peace ever since the Arusha agreement was signed on 28 August 2000. After ten years of war, over 500,000 are estimated to be in refugee camps in western Tanzania, another 300,000 are thought to be dispersed across Tanzania, and there are approximately 281,000 permanently displaced persons in Burundi itself. Every month, another 100,000 people on average become temporarily displaced as a result of the ongoing violence. To one degree or another, all these refugees and displaced persons have been the victims of land expropriation.

The foreseeable disappointment of a large number of refugees who will be unable to recover their property upon return offers ideal political opportunities for the one rebel group still not involved in the peace process: Agathon Rwasa’s Party for the Liberation of the Hutu People, otherwise known as the National Liberation Forces (PALIPEHUTU-FNL). The transition could likewise be in serious danger if the land question becomes an election issue.

The urgent requirement in this situation is to defuse the land time-bomb through the creation of a transitional judicial process designed exclusively for land management, one that adapts traditional institutions to help implement the resettlement process. Displaced persons should be empowered either to reclaim the entirety of what has been taken from them or to obtain appropriate compensation.

"The Burundi government and the international community have thus far failed to recognise the scale of the problems they will face with the return and resettlement of refugees and displaced persons", said Dr Grignon. "The issue will not only test the administrative capacity of the transitional government and the willingness of the international community to help Burundi’s reconstruction, but will also be an ongoing source of tension during the transition process".

Nairobi / Brussels, 2 December 2003

Any Hope Left For Diplomacy Over Ukraine?

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood hosts a two-part episode on the Ukraine war, talking to Crisis Group’s Europe/Central Asia director Olga Oliker about the fighting and Western policy and then to UN director, Richard Gowan, about dynamics at the UN and how the world has reacted.

Fighting rages on in Ukraine. Despite massive advantages in fire and manpower, the Russian military is facing much fiercer Ukrainian resistance than Moscow appears to have anticipated and has stepped up airstrikes on Ukrainian cities. Diplomatic efforts still continue, with the two sides meeting to talk about humanitarian access. But casualties and the levels of destruction continue to rise. Western countries have responded with punishing sanctions, further NATO troop build-ups along the alliance's eastern flank and continued supplies of arms to Ukraine. Meanwhile, a UN General Assembly meeting on 2 March saw a large majority of states vote to condemn Russia’s aggression. Whether Moscow’s diplomatic and economic isolation will have any impact on the Kremlin’s calculations remains to be seen. 

This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood discusses again the war in Ukraine and its fallout, in a two-part episode with Crisis Group experts, Olga Oliker, Europe & Central Asia director and Richard Gowan, UN director. Olga talks about the latest fighting dynamics, what the coming weeks could bring, the Western response so far and whether diplomatic efforts stand any hope of getting to a ceasefire or end to the fighting. Richard Gowan then looks at the overwhelming condemnation in the UN General Assembly of Russia’s aggression and reactions to the crisis from around the world. He asks what role the UN might play in Ukraine and examines the war’s potential impact on an already deeply divided Security Council and its conflict management more broadly. 

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

For more of Crisis Group’s analysis, visit our Ukraine regional page, and make sure to read our recent commentary, ‘The Ukraine War: A Global Crisis?’ and our statement, ‘War in Europe: Responding to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine’.


Executive Vice President
Program Director, Europe and Central Asia
UN Director