GENEVA, Switzerland, February 11, 2014 – Six months after the process of expelling “undocumented migrants” started in Tanzania, IOM continues to receive returnees in Burundi, although at a small scale.
In January, IOM received 3,220 expelled migrants, bringing the total number of registered migrants in Burundi to 43,145. Uganda, for its part, is hosting 4,669 expelled migrants in a transit camp.
The majority of the arriving migrants say they have been incarcerated. They believe that more prisoners may be released in March and April, once they have served their time.
IOM’s humanitarian assistance was initiated in quick response to the influx of returnees following a Tanzanian directive in July 2013 stipulating that all migrants in the Kagera region without “valid residential documents” had to leave the country by 11 August 2013, or be forcibly removed by security forces.
But the ongoing response is challenged by a lack of funding. IOM and other agencies, including WFP, UNICEF and FAO, only have money to continue to help the returnees until the end of March.
IOM is providing assistance to expelled Burundian migrants in five transit centers (Mabanda, Bukemba, Ngomante, Kinazi and Gisuru), and in communes of origin or return. The Organization is also in talks with the government to initiate reintegration efforts.
There have also been efforts to improve the registration process and humanitarian conditions in the five transit centers to ensure returnees have access to the same basic standard of living as their compatriots in Burundi.
IOM has provided transportation to 8,122 individuals to their communes of origin. The majority of migrants have been resettled in the provinces of Ruyigi, Makamba, Muyinga and Rutana. A total of 467 migrants, without homes to return to, are still hosted in transit centres across Burundi.
IOM’s current activities include registration and information management, onward return transport assistance, rehabilitation and management of transit centres, distribution of non-food relief items, provision of emergency shelter, and protection monitoring in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee.
In Uganda, no new arrivals have been recorded and expelled migrants who have no home to return to continue to be hosted at the Sango Bay transit centre. There are currently 4,669 expelled migrants in Sango Bay.
With funding from UNOCHA, IOM in coordination with the Government of Uganda, has been able improve health conditions in the camp through the provision of primary health care and improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.
IOM has also partially improved access to safe drinking water and provided temporary communal bathing shelters and hand washing facilities. Among the 3,575 migrants assisted, 42 per cent were children under five; 2,721 migrants were treated at IOM’s mobile outpatient clinic, with 50 per cent of patients treated for confirmed or clinical malaria.
The Ugandan government is working on modalities of reintegrating the expelled migrants and the Cabinet has already prepared a paper on the return/resettlement of the returnees within the country. IOM is seeking to provide technical support for the reintegration effort and the government has requested IOM to conduct an intentions survey within the migrant population in order to plan a durable solutions policy.