Publications

Two People Can’t Share the Same Pair of Shoes: Citizenship, Land and the Return of Refugees to Burundi

International Refugee Rights Initiative

This paper tracks the experience of refugees returning to southern Burundi and re-asserting their citizenship. Most have been living in exile in Tanzania – some since the early 1990s, and others since 1972. Some were born in exile and have never been to Burundi before. Others left when they were children, while others can still remember the horrors that forced them to flee. Although the paper set out to explore the process of return and reintegration in general, access to land quickly emerged as the most critical issue. Land and reintegration are inseparable in this context: land is access to livelihoods; it allows for the bringing together of family structures that represents a vital coping mechanism in a context of extreme poverty; it symbolises connection with the past, with history, a re-affirmation of identity; and its equitable distribution represents hope for sustainable peace.

Published: 2009. November.

Citation: International Refugee Rights Initiative, "Two People Can’t Share the Same Pair of Shoes: Citizenship, Land and the Return of Refugees to Burundi," Citizenship and Forced Migration in the Great Lakes Region: Working Paper 2, 2009. November..

Related Programs and Projects