BURUNDI: Regina Nzokirantevye, "I have been displaced most of my life"

Monday, July 2, 2007


Regina Nzokirantevye, 70, left her home in Burundi’s northern province of Ngozi in 1972 when civil war broke out and only returned to the country in 2005, spending more than three decades as a refugee in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Since her return, she has been living in camps for returnees and the internally displaced:

"I am growing old, yet I am all alone in this house. When I left my home in 1972 I wasn't even married. I fled to Bukavu [in eastern DRC] where I married a Congolese man and had three children.

"Unfortunately, my husband and all my three children have died; they are all buried in DRC. When I heard that peace was returning to my country I decided to come back home and see if I could trace any of my relatives.

"I have suffered so much all my life; I don't even know where to begin. When I came back, I tried to find my relatives but my search has been futile. You can see that I'm now weak, I don't even have the energy to dig any more.

"All I depend on is this small patch of land outside my house [with a few maize stalks] and begging from the communities living near our camp. I can't even go out and ask to work on their farms because I no longer have the energy.

"All I need now is a little work to sustain myself; at least I can still do most of the domestic chores by myself. Where to get money for food and other needs is my main problem."

Source: IRIN