• Triffin Ntore | Communication Assistant, IOM Burundi

Bujumbura – Like many countries, Burundi experiences diverse migration and mobility opportunities and challenges. There are thousands of internally displaced persons mainly due to natural disasters. Still, thousands of Burundians continue to return from neighboring countries. All these groups are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking, exploitation, and abuse.  Additionally, there are members of the Burundian diaspora across the world. Burundi is also home to migrants from other countries.  

In Burundi, like in most places, misconceptions and stereotypes about migrants and migration are common.

Last year, IOM Burundi marked the International Migrants Day, by organizing a photo contest and exhibition to highlight the challenges and difficulties associated with international migration, but also, and more importantly, on the considerable contributions that migrants make to our lives and societies.

IOM invited people to submit photographs and a legend depicting the lives of migrants. A diverse range of pictures were received and a jury, including photographers and artists who are or have been migrants, selected the following five best pictures.

"Hand in hand towards education for all in refugee camps". A photograph taken by Darcy Mwuhiro near a camp in Mugombwa hosting Congolese refugees in Rwanda.

Burundi is a departure point for many refugees resettling to third countries. IOM works in close coordination with UNHCR and the Government of the Republic of Burundi to facilitate resettlement by providing transportation, pre-departure medical screening, cultural orientation, travel assistance and logistical support to refugees. 

“A migrant, as a citizen of the world with a colorful look” by Djuma Mabingo.

Burundi is home to thousands of migrants from Africa, Asia, Europe or elsewhere, some of whom have lived in the country for many years.

“Ibrahim is 17. After all the difficulties he has encountered and due to lack of school fees, he sees his future out of Africa.” Taken by Gerard Andy Nibizi in Bujumbura on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

Ibrahim is one of the thousands Burundian who plan to move abroad in search of better future for themselves and their families. Promoting the view that migration can contribute to poverty alleviation and an individuals’ growth and prosperity, IOM collaborates with the Government of Burundi and other partners to implement projects and initiatives that ensures protection for migrants and promotes regular labour migration channels, build on existing national and regional frameworks, and facilitates labour mobility. 

“A displaced child from Karuhama full of hope” Taken by Liana Kimana, in Cibitoke.

Climate change continues to drive internal displacement in Burundi and 90 percent of displacements in the country are due to natural disasters such floods and landslides. IOM works closely with the Government of Burundi to ensure the delivery of appropriate shelter, non-food items, hygiene and protection interventions to displaced populations.

“Marc and Marie flee the country in search of a better future for their child. Mary rests under a table that serves as a shelter from the sun and rain.” Taken by Lionel Nishimwe in Kirundo Province.

For IOM, protecting crisis-affected communities from threats to their life, dignity and well-being is a priority in humanitarian response.

These photographs displayed the lives of migrants in various situations and were brought to the fore during an event to mark the International Migrants Day in Bujumbura, the Burundian capital.  IOM organised the event in collaboration with ISHAKA 2250, a youth organization. 

The event included quiz games and a debate on migration and its contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and also to demonstrate the diversity that migrants bring to Burundi. It involved various groups showcasing art, dance and food exhibition with 75 young people, and migrants from Cameroon, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, India, Mali and Senegal. To reach rural populations, a podcast featuring stories of migrants was aired on community radios in strategic provinces on 18 December and also played during the event.

SDG 1 - No Poverty
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
SDG 13 - Climate Action