In 1995, JRS began working in the country with internally displaced Burundians, as well as thousands of refugees arriving from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. After the return of relative peace to the region, JRS shifted its support to the integration of more than 500,000 former refugees who began coming home from Tanzania in 2002.
Twelve years of civil war between the Tutsi-dominated army and Hutu rebel factions had left more than 300,000 dead and injured, and led to large-scale displacement inside and outside the country. With its country office in the capital, Bujumbura, JRS teams work in Rutana and Muyinga provinces, providing primary and secondary education, and running food security programmes.
Although Burundi had been relatively stable since 2005, new tensions between government and opposition parties have increased in recent months, with a number of attacks and killings targeting both sides. According to many international observers, as well as the local Catholic Church, the government’s refusal to dialogue with the opposition is the main reason for this escalation of violence.
A reprisal of a new rebellion would have disastrous consequences for Burundi. The population is already facing one of the highest poverty levels in the world, the effects of the international economic crises, and corruption-related problems. Moreover, a new crisis would interrupt the reintegration process of former Burundian refugees returning home after spending several years in Tanzanian refugee camps.
Cultivating reconciliation between returnees and local communities, and avoiding conflict over access to land, are main priorities for JRS Burundi. If tensions abate, JRS plans to phase down its projects at the end of 2012 as it believes the goal of accompanying returnees towards autonomy would have been successfully accomplished.
Great Lakes Africa
+257 78991302; +243 (0)821778696; +250 782000940
JRS Great Lakes Africa is one of 10 geographic regions of the Jesuit Refugee Service, an international Catholic organization sponsored by the Society of Jesus. The regional office coordinates the delivery of education, housing, psychosocial and recreational services, as well emergency assistance and support to become self-sufficient, to vulnerable refugee and other displaced populations in Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2009, nearly 60,000 forcibly displaced persons were assisted by JRS in the region.
Burundi: new JRS project puts women at the centre
Kibimba, 03 May 2012 – Announcing the opening of its latest food security project in southeast Burundi, JRS staff stressed its innovative approach dedicated to helping women become protagonists in their own communities.
Burundi: last refugees to repatriate from Tanzania
Bujumbura, 28 October 2011 –The last of more than 500,000 refugees who fled violent civil war in Burundi in the 1990s will return home, bringing the massive repatriation process to an end.
Burundi: unrest continues in the capital
Bujumbura, 9 July 2010 – Increasing political violence and human rights violations threatens to derail the consolidation of peace in Burundi.
Burundi: peace process is making further progress
Bujumbura – On 9 January 2009, the last active armed rebel group in Burundi, the FNL-Palipehutu, agreed to remove Palipehutu (referring to the ethnic composition of the party) from its name. They will seek accreditation as a political party, the FNL, Forces for National Liberation.
Burundi: rebel group and government agree to implement peace agreement
Bujumbura – On 4 December 2008, the government and the Forces for National Liberation (FNL) – Palipehutu, the remaining armed rebel group, agreed to implement the 2006 peace accord.
Ex-rebel leader elected president in Burundi
After three elections in Burundi in less than three months, the stage is set. On 26 August, the leader of the former rebel group CNDD-FDD, Pierre Nkurunziza, will become the new democratically elected president of the country, putting an end to 12 years of civil war.
Burundi: Tension and violence region
Bujumbura, 30 June 2005 – Throughout June, the level of tension and violence between the Hutu-dominated parties, the CNDD-FDD, the principal former rebel group, and FRODEBU, the major opposition party, increased significantly.
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