In Tanzania, DRC and Burundi, more than 400.000 Burundian and Congolese refugee have been in exile for up to 40 years after being forced to flee wars and violence resulting from the socio-political history of their countries. In 1972, 1988 and 1993, hundreds of thousands of Burundians fled in waves from political crises and massacres triggered by the internecine contest for power between the Hutu and Tutsi communities. In 1996-97, huge numbers of refugees left the DRC when Mobutu was ousted during the AFDL war after thirty years of dictatorship. These movements continued after the second Congolese war of 1998-2003, and do so today in North and South Kivu as the result of repeated clashes between rebel groups and the regular army.
What does the future hold for those refugees? After 40 years in exile, returning “home” can be unthinkable for some refugees despite the pressure for voluntary repatriation. What are the other options?
To better understand the refugees’ point of view and the reasons why they refuse to return, DRC’s Great Lakes Programme and its partners ADEPAE, SVH and Rema carried out a research project bringing new light on how Congolese and Burundian refugees live from day to day in exile in the Great Lakes region, and how they perceive and understand the options available to them in this context. This documentary is part of that project, and was recorded in partnership with Local Voices during the validation workshops in July-August, 2013.