Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

Global Overview 2011: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Burundi

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 19 April 2012
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Global Overview 2011: People internally displaced by conflict and violence - Burundi, 19 April 2012, available at: [accessed 16 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Quick facts
Number of IDPs78,800
Percentage of total population0.9%
Start of current displacement situation1993
Peak number of IDPs (Year)800,000 (1999)
New displacement0
Causes of displacementArmed conflict, generalised violence
Human development index185

In 2011, 78,800 IDPs were living in some 120 settlements in Burundi, most of them in the north and centre of the country. The majority of IDPs were ethnic Tutsi who had been displaced by inter-communal violence which broke out after the 1993 coup and the fighting between government forces and rebel groups which followed. There has been no new displacement since 2008, when the last rebel group laid down its arms following a peace agreement with the government.

Like the rest of the population of the third-least-developed country in the world, IDPs are often extremely poor. Burundi is the least-urbanised country in the world, and the homes and land of most Burundians are scattered across the hilly countryside; IDPs also live in rural areas, but in more concentrated settlements numbering from a few hundred to several thousand people. Few of them have secure tenure of the small plots they live on in these settlements.

Many IDPs still commuted in 2011 to their places of origin to cultivate their land; the older and sick among them often struggled to do so, as the fields could be several hours walk away from their settlement. Because of the distance, it was also impossible for IDPs to raise livestock or protect their crops from theft. Many widows and orphaned girls had had their land taken over by family members. Displaced members of the Batwa ethnic group, who are widely discriminated against, generally did not own land prior to their displacement and were living in particularly difficult conditions, in huts with leaf roofing set apart from other IDPs.

The Ministry of National Solidarity, Refugee Return and Social Reintegration is responsible for supporting the reintegration of IDPs and returnees. In March 2010, the government adopted a "socio-economic reintegration strategy for people affected by the conflict" and set up a technical working group to develop a policy on durable solutions for IDPs. The group, comprised of government ministries, international partners and a civil society representative, conducted in 2011 a comprehensive survey of IDPs in settlements to inform the government's work on durable solutions for IDPs. The survey found that of the 78,800 IDPs who were still seeking durable solutions, 85 per cent wanted to integrate locally, whereas fewer than eight per cent wanted to return to their hills of origin and the same small percentage wanted to be resettled elsewhere in the country.

Thus the overwhelming majority of IDPs wish to remain where the authorities settled them years ago during the conflict; however the ownership of the land on which some of the IDP settlements lie was being disputed in 2011. The National Commission for Land and Other Possessions (Commission Nationale des Terres et autres Biens or CNTB), a government body set up to find solutions for people who lost their possessions due to the conflict, was working to solve land disputes on around

30 IDP settlements, following applications by people claiming to own the land.

Developments in 2011 could give IDPs a greater chance of achieving a durable solution. A new comprehensive land code enacted in August offers rural communities a more flexible and appropriate process for ensuring security of tenure, and could therefore help IDPs certify their land, regardless of whether they return, integrate locally or settle elsewhere. A national villagisation programme started in 2011, under which some of the population is expected to move into villages so that land use is rationalised and access to basic services improved. The programme could offer opportunities to IDPs as well as to repatriated refugees if it includes a stream for "vulnerable people".

Burundi has ratified the Great Lakes Pact and signed the Kampala Convention in 2009; however it had not ratified the Convention by the end of 2011.

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