Photo of the week : more than 8,000 Burundians, including former returnees, requested asylum in the DRC in two months

Photo of the week : more than 8,000 Burundians, including former returnees, requested asylum in the DRC in two months

According to figures provided by the National Commission for Refugees in Uvira in the province from South Kivu (eastern DRC), eight thousand two hundred Burundians were registered in less than two months. Among them, former refugees who had been repatriated since 2021. Mostly welcomed in the Kavimvira or Sange transit camps, they explain that they are fleeing for economic reasons, insecurity and the mistreatment they suffer from of Imbonerakure (members of the CNDD-FDD youth league). INFO SOS Médias Burundi

According to the commission, five thousand Burundians are already installed in transit camps awaiting the procedure for granting the refugee status.

“However, it’s sad because among them there are several former refugees who had been repatriated”, we learn.

According to our sources, at least 2,200 other Burundians are not yet registered. They spend the night under makeshift tarpaulin shelters, others spend the night outdoors.


According to testimonies, new arrivals in the DRC are fleeing for economic and political reasons.

“When I arrived in my native village, I realized that all my property had been seized and my crop fields occupied by force. I was threatened with death if I dared to demand anything. So I had no no choice but to flee”, testifies a father of six children, originally from Bubanza province (western Burundi).

He was repatriated in 2021 before returning to exile. Others speak of violence and threats they suffered from Imbonerakure (members of the CNDD-FDD youth league).

“They tortured my husband in front of my eyes. He was beaten up like a snake or an animal to be slaughtered. Traumatized, we decided to flee our country, my children and I”, testifies a woman from the Cibitoke province (northwest).

Deplorable living conditions in the DRC

Welcomed in the Sange and Kavimvira transit camps in South Kivu (eastern DRC), these Burundians are far from appreciating their situation in the host country.

“Unfortunately, even here the conditions are not good. We spend a lot of time without refugee status, we are not well assisted. To survive, we are forced to look for work outside the camp. Some go so far as to take the risk of stealing, even if it is dangerous. That’s why we chose to be repatriated”, they say, in despair.

The National Commission for Refugees claims to receive at least 120 Burundians per week.

For his part, the governor of Cibitoke speaks of speculation on the part of returnees who are returning to exile.

He indicates instead that “It’s a lie. They are fleeing to get a return package that they are waiting for from the UNHCR.”

During his last visit to Congo, Nestor Bimenyimana, responsible for the repatriation of refugees in Burundi at the Ministry of Interior, declared that “the question of repatriated Burundians returning to Congo will be the subject of an investigation to verify the reasons”.

The latest figures provided by the UNHCR and the National Commission for Refugees show that there are more than 43,000 Burundian refugees in the DRC.

Our photo: Burundian asylum seekers in front of makeshift tarpaulin shelters in South Kivu

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