Members of the Diaspora from Africa's Great Lakes region want to be part of efforts to fight poverty and brain drain in the region, according to participants at a conference that opened on Monday in the Burundian capital, Bujumbura.
"It is time for the Diaspora, which had for long lost contact with their countries, to cease being called the lost citizens," Jean-Marie Rurimirije, president of a bank known as the Mutualité de Grand Lacs, said at the conference, which was opened by Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza.
He said the Diaspora wanted to discourage the youth against thinking that living abroad was a solution to poverty-related problems. "We want to urge them to build their future life while remaining on their motherland," Rurimirije added.
The Diaspora is trying to create a mood of trust among the people of the region, most of whom have suffered due to several years of civil war. Rurimirije said migrants from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda wanted to feel that they were actors of development in their home countries and were seeking to join a synergy of other stakeholders.
The two-day conference is organised by the Forum international des praticiens du micro credit et de la mutualité - an association providing money transfer services and micro credit. It is sponsored by the European Union, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme. Members of parliament, government officials and diplomats as well as representatives of religious organisations are also attending the conference.
In his opening speech, Nkurunziza said the conference was the first in the region. "The USA, a major world power, could not achieve much without the contribution of immigrants," he said.
He said migrants constituted a major potential to boost the region's development as well as help reduce poverty.
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