Facts and Figures
Burundi has the second-largest population density in Sub-Saharan Africa and one of the highest in the world. In the past decades, the country has witnessed a series of civil unrests, which resulted in large migration flows both within the country and across borders. Furthermore, the devastating effects of natural hazards, climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the war in Ukraine and its effects on the global economic climate further weakened the country’s economy and exacerbated the resource scarcity that Burundi’s population faces. Burundi is the 22nd world’s most vulnerable country to climate change (ND-GAIN, 2022), with 89 per cent of internal displacements caused by natural hazards (IOM, May 2023). Floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains and strong winds cause severe damage to households and essential crops in the country, where over 90 per cent of the population rely on subsistence farming.
According to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) data from May 2023, Burundi counts with over 76,900 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of which 55 per cent are women and 54 per cent children. Based on its Emergency Event Tracking (EET) dashboards, IOM estimates that from January to December 2022, 106,698 persons were affected by natural disasters, of which 12,850 were newly displaced.
In addition, since 2017, an estimated 207,567 returnees have been coming back to their communities of origin in Burundi, and 75,000 Burundian refugees are expected to return from neighbouring states in 2023 alone (UNHCR December 2022), thus putting additional strain on communities in areas of return that are already land and resource-scarce and where access to livelihoods opportunities is limited.
The most urgent needs of these IDPs and returnees in terms of life-saving assistance range from shelter, non-food items (NFI), and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support, to access to housing, land and property (HLP) and protection.
The country continues to host around 86,000 refugees and asylum seekers (UNHCR, July 2022), mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Burundi has thus become a departure point for refugees seeking to resettle to third countries. It also sees high volumes of cross-border movements of goods and people – primarily traders, workers, refugees and travellers, which have increased after border closures with neighbouring countries were revoked.
Several generations of post-conflict trauma have resulted in untreated and stigmatized ill mental health, alcohol and substance abuse, as well as Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and domestic violence at the community level. The protection and mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) needs of vulnerable migrants and IDPs in this context are high and manifold: 64% of people exposed to protection risks in 2022 are affected by GBV (HNO 2022) which is a root cause of trafficking and exploitation. Internal and cross-border trafficking in persons persist. An estimated 82 per cent of the victims are women and girls, often for forced domestic labour, sexual exploitation and forced marriage in neighbouring countries or the Gulf states.
Burundi continues to grapple with the spread of COVID-19, alongside other health risks such as malaria and cholera and the continued risk of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) transmission from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo. These health risks are exacerbated by the high mobility flows of people and goods and low resources to manage them at the different points of entry between Burundi and its neighbours.
Additionally, 2022 saw a change in mobility patterns in Burundi and the East and Horn of Africa, with more migrants moving abroad intra-regionally and internationally for economic reasons, exposing them to new risks and vulnerabilities and calling for a diversification in assistance related to safe and regular migration pathways at a time of advances on regional and continental integration.
Burundi has been an IOM Member State since 2007. In 2010, Burundi and IOM signed a cooperation agreement that led to the establishment of an IOM Mission in Burundi, which counts over 200 staff members and 5 sub-offices.
IOM Burundi Mission
IOM works closely with the Government of the Republic of Burundi and other partners, including UN agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations to implement a well-coordinated response to the country’s core migration-related challenges.
Projects are ongoing to support the most vulnerable Internally Displaced Persons, returnees and their host communities, and mobile populations thanks to the activities and expertise of IOM Burundi, in the following areas:
- Migration Health
Preparing for and responding to internal or cross-border health risks
In the wake of recent epidemic outbreaks in the East Africa region, notably the Ebola Virus Disease and COVID-19, IOM Burundi, along with the Government of the Republic of Burundi and other partners, continues to implement a comprehensive programme to support ongoing efforts to prevent, detect and respond to health threats along the mobility continuum, from points of origin and transit to destination and return. Psychological first aid activities and mental health care are a key component of the support provided. IOM Burundi’s work is anchored in the Health, Border and Mobility Management (HBMM) framework and Manual on Community-Based Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergencies and Displacement.
- IOM Burundi - MHD-Infosheet – September 2022.pdf
- OIM Burundi - Fiche d'information Departement de sante et migration - Juin 2022
- Shelter, Non-Food Items, Sanitation and Hygiene
Providing life-saving assistance in emergencies
IOM Burundi directly provides and promotes appropriate shelter, non-food items (NFI) and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) interventions, such as drinking water treatment, latrine design/construction, and hygiene promotion. IOM co-leads the inter-agency shelter sector and supports the Government of the Republic of Burundi to coordinate humanitarian assistance on shelter, NFI and WASH. It is also a key member of the Cash Transfer and Durable Solutions technical working groups, and a key participant in the National Platform for Risk Prevention and Disaster Management coordination mechanism, led by the Ministry of Public Security. IOM Burundi also complements this response through camp coordination and camp management activities on internal displacement sites.
- Housing, Land and Property
Ensuring access to land and land security
Access to land and land tenure security are key for social and economic development and in the assistance to returnees and IDPs. IOM Burundi is supporting the Government of the Republic of Burundi to promote access to safe land and land tenure security to further reduce land-related tensions while continuing to inform communities on the importance of land property rights. IOM co-leads the sub sector on Housing, Land and Property (HLP) along with the Ministry of Interior.
- Migrant Protection & Assistance
Ensuring protection and restoring dignity
To respond adequately to protection needs and necessities of beneficiaries, including IDPs, returnees, refugees, victims of human trafficking and Gender-Based Violence (GBV), IOM Burundi's offers a diverse spectrum of assistance focused on protection and reintegration of the most vulnerable through the prism of individual, household, community and structural approaches. IOM collaborates with the Government of the Republic of Burundi and civil society organizations to strengthen the national capacity to better respond to and govern numerous migration challenges. IOM is a member of the strategic advisory group of the Protection Sector, the sub-sector for Child Protection, and for Prevention of GBV and chairs the Counter-Trafficking Working Group.
- Displacement Monitoring
Providing accurate and disaggregated data on displacement to inform programming and policies
The Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) is the sole monitoring mechanism in Burundi that gathers and analyzes data to disseminate critical information on the mobility, vulnerabilities, and needs of displaced and mobile populations, mainly collecting data on internally displaced populations and emergency events (natural hazards). The DTM collaborates with the Government of the Republic of Burundi to coordinate periodical data collection exercises carried out by enumerators and supervisors from the Burundian Red Cross with the support of local authorities. DTM data enables decision makers and responders to provide better and context-specific assistance.
- IOM Burundi_DTM Infosheet_January 2023.pdf
- Link to French version to be shared soon
- Disaster Risk Reduction
Preventing, preparing for and responding to disasters
IOM’s Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) portfolio aims to advance mobility-based strategies and resilience in the implementation of its activities, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 – 2030. Presently in Burundi, around 90% of total internal displacement in the country is due to natural hazards and IOM works to respond to the need for prevention, adaptation and mitigation actions to avert, minimize and address displacement in the context of climate change and disasters. Currently, IOM Burundi undertakes several nationwide actions, including disaster risk mapping, institutional and local capacity building, prevention and mitigation works, to strengthen Burundi’s resilience towards adverse impacts of climate change.
- Transition & Recovery
Fostering stability, resilience and durable solutions through socioeconomic reintegration and enhanced social cohesion.
IOM Burundi is building a locally-driven and contextualized portfolio of longer-term development-principled activities in parallel to humanitarian efforts to assist internally displaced persons, returnees and host communities. It implements project activities, including infrastructure rehabilitations, cash-for-work modalities and livelihoods support, designed to empower vulnerable populations, especially local communities that host larger numbers of Burundian returnees but also internally displaced persons, mainly in border provinces. In this way, IOM focuses on stabilization and resilience; durable solutions and recovery; transition and peacebuilding; and the reduction of disaster risk and environmental degradation.
- Immigration & Border Management
Responding to complex migration and border management challenges to facilitate safe, orderly and regular migration and mobility
IOM Burundi supports the Government of the Republic of Burundi through the General Commission for Migration within the Ministry of Interior, Public Security and Community Development in the implementation of Humanitarian Border Management (HBM) and Health, Border and Mobility Management (HBMM) interventions across the country’s borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Supporting the establishment of modern and efficient Border Control Posts supports safe and orderly migration of citizens, enhances the relationship between bordering countries, provides protection, and increases the political and socioeconomic stability between Burundi and its neighbours.
- Labour Migration & Human Development
Optimizing the benefits of labour mobility for the migrants and the countries of origin and destination IOM promotes the view that migration contributes to poverty alleviation and individuals’ growth and prosperity. IOM’s Institutional Strategy on Migration and Sustainable Development outlines a whole-of-organization approach to comprehensively integrate migration and development into policymaking and programming. IOM Burundi is committed to protecting migrants’ rights by working with governmental partners and developing employment opportunities for youth in Burundi, thus reducing the risk for them to choose irregular migration channels. Projects and initiatives that promote regular labour migration channels build on existing national and regional frameworks, and facilitate labour mobility, and are implemented in collaboration with public and private sector partners.
- Resettlement and Movement Management
Helping refugees resettle to third countries
The safe and dignified resettlement of refugees and other humanitarian entrants requires a comprehensive, humane, and protection-oriented approach – one which recognizes the interdependencies of travel, health and integration as integral components. Burundi has become a departure point for many refugees resettling to third countries. IOM Burundi facilitates resettlement by providing transportation, pre-departure medical screening (through its migration health assessment centre), cultural orientation, travel assistance and logistical support to refugees.
- Contact information
International Organization for Migration (IOM)
13, Avenue Ririkumutima, Kabondo Ouest
B.P. 510 Bujumbura – Burundi
Tel: +257 22301400