Internal Displacement In Burundi And Somalia: Comparison Of The Institutional Responses



This term paper examines the institutional intervention and responses in managing the problem of internal displacement in Burundi and Somalia. The main focus of the term paper is to compare and contrast the intervention strategies employed in order to identify the specific institutional challenges in terms of the successes and failures peculiar to each of the states under reference. This is instructive to help facilitate future response strategies and develop an action plan for the management of IDPs crisis. This paper also aims at illustrating the need to prioritize economic recovery in Burundi as a requirement for creating a peace dividend and maintaining stability. In addition to this, it underlines the fact that early economic recovery is also of critical importance. In order to situate displacement in Burundi and Somalia within a broader context, it is important to first discuss the global IDP crisis and international responses to it. Two sets of issues in this context are raised: first, the tensions between international action and sovereignty in the context of the emerging international IDP regime, and second, the pitfalls of humanitarian assistance programs in opening the way for the construction of new forms of power relations regarding displaced groups.

One of the world’s most acute and growing problems is the increasing number of internally displaced people. This phenomenon is a direct consequence of the spate of internal violent conflict; gross human right violation; endemic situation of famine and drought; the barbarism of xenophobia and genocide; natural and environmental disaster; all of which are re-occurring in quick succession especially in Africa. But this does not necessarily imply that other parts of the world (Europe, Asia and America) are not engulfed in the displacement generating phenomenon. In fact, the 2010 flood in China which left no fewer than 250,000 people displaced; the flooding in Pakistan which seemed intractable; the several Muqdisho earthquakes in the United States; all these are evidences to show that no part of the world is left out. Again, since the end of the cold war, especially in the past two decades, the occurrence of displacement inducing situation has increased in an unprecedented manner. What makes the situation peculiar in Africa is that the entire displacement generating situations are directly or indirectly related to violent conflict. And this again in the final analysis is as a result of the political pervasiveness of the African political elite.

Violent conflicts had caused massive displacement in Burundi and Somalia. But institutional responses at managing this displacement have taken different dimensions and effect. When compared to Somalia, Burundi has recorded a positive effect in terms of managing the crisis of displacement. Burundi and Somalia represent two distinct states where institutional responses (both international and national agencies) in the management of internal displacement have generated a lot of positive and negative effects. Fighting in Burundi has abated since 2000 even though the Burundian government is still grasping with post conflict reconstruction and resettlement. But Somalia is still enmeshed in fighting, such that the question of whether or not Somalia is a failed state is a matter of semantics. Pursued further, the situation in Somalia till this moment raises doubt about the nature and status of the displaced. In fact, the Somalia experience is that of, not just the crisis of displacement, but the impending crisis of statelessness.