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Turner, Simon
Brønden, Birgitte Mossin
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
DIIS Working Paper No. 2011:10
This working paper explores the changing roles of Diasporas in post-conflict Burundi in terms of contributing to development, reconciliation and peace building. Burundi is in a state of post-conflict recovery after decades of civil war and widespread ethnic violence. Due to repressive regimes and to extensive violence, a large proportion of the country's Hutu population left the country to take refuge in neighbouring countries or in Europe and North America where they involved themselves in political activities. The evolving new situation with better security has led to a diversification of Diaspora engagements. First, it is now possible for members of the Diaspora to invest in the country, either with the prospect of returning in the future or simply to make a profit. Second, the Diaspora is increasingly involved in development projects. A third area of Diaspora engagement after conflict is the return or circulation of "brains". In this working paper, we explore the various initiatives that have been taken by various actors in order to try to engage the Diaspora in peace building and development. Such initiatives are taken at all levels from local grassroots and individual entrepreneurs to states and international organizations. They include private and public sectors and may be initiated both inside Burundi and among the Diaspora. The paper demonstrates that it is a great challenge for the conflict-generated Diaspora to redefine its role from being in political opposition to the home country to being part of the development process. We argue that the Burundian Diaspora is very heterogeneous and that the various 'Diasporas' react differently to the new situation. Furthermore, we argue that the initiatives to engage the Diaspora are precarious and not always in tune with the needs and preoccupations of a conflict-generated Diaspora. In particular, the majority of initiatives lack awareness about the political engagement and identity of Burundians in exile, thus often alienating them from the process.
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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