1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. East Africa
  4. Burundi

Government offers new sites for DRC refugees

UNHCR logo
UNHCR hopes to repatriate the Rwandan refugees this year (UNHCR)

Thousands of Congolese refugees in Burundi are to be relocated away from the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), an official from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Friday. The announcement comes a week after a massacre of 160 refugees last Friday on a transit camp at Gatumba, which is only 1 km from the border.

"Some 18,000 Congolese refugees living in three transit sites will be able to relocate either to a camp in Gisozi, in the central province of Mwaro, or at Giharo, in the southeastern province of Rutana," said the UNHCR Public Information Officer in Burundi, David Short, at a news conference organized by the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB).

The government and UNHCR are due to sign the convention on Monday; building of the camps could start as early as Tuesday. The camps will be in accordance with an international convention, which requires refugees to be located at least at 50 km from the border of the country they fled.

"The refugees may be reluctant to leave their transit centres. They claim that they would not be secure in the countryside," Short said. "We will begin an awareness campaign in the three transit sites in an effort to reassure refugees that the new sites are safe," he added.

In the meantime security has been beefed up in the transit camps. The ONUB civilian spokesperson, Isabelle Abric, said that UN peacekeepers have increased their daytime and night patrols along the shores of Lake Tanganyika and on the border between Burundi and DRC. Security at the Congolese refugee camp at Gasorwe, in the northeastern province of Muyinga, has also been strengthened.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Help us be the transformation we’d like to see in the news industry

The current journalistic model is broken: Audiences are demanding that the hierarchical, elite-led system of news-gathering and presentation be dismantled in favour of a more inclusive and holistic model based on more equitable access to information and more nuanced and diverse narratives.

The business model is also broken, with many media going bankrupt during the pandemic – despite their information being more valuable than ever – because of a dependence on advertisers. 

Finally, exploitative and extractive practices have long been commonplace in media and other businesses.

We think there is a better way. We want to build something different.

Our new five-year strategy outlines how we will do so. It is an ambitious vision to become a transformative newsroom – and one that we need your support to achieve.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian by making a regular contribution to our work - and help us deliver on our new strategy.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.