GENEVA, Switzerland, July 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM is supporting the Government of Burundi in its efforts to increasingly engage with the Burundian diaspora in national development. A key initial IOM intervention is support for the Ministry of External Relations and International Cooperation in organizing the first Diaspora Week, which will take place in Bujumbura between 28 and 31 July.
The first Diaspora Week aims at promoting skills transfers and investment opportunities, and will specifically consist of a multi-dimensional workshop that is intended to bring together key Burundian stakeholders to share experiences through debates, including on investment opportunities, discussions on national and regional migration policies and diaspora policies, exhibitions, networking, and the presentation of the newly created Diaspora Directorate and its roles and functions.
Key actors will include representatives from government ministries, private sector institutions, civil society and diaspora associations. Over 150 individual members of the Burundian diaspora will participate in an event that will also count on the participation of the directors of government diaspora departments from Rwanda and Senegal, who are expected to share their experiences of diaspora engagement.
Key recommendations and results from the workshop will be included in the existing draft national policy on migration, as well as the national diaspora policy soon be developed with IOM support.
Other future initiatives to be supported by IOM in Burundi include the capacity-building of the recently created Diaspora Directorate, and the design of a framework for identifying and prioritizing government sectors that will receive IOM-sponsored training, primarily in the mental health sector. IOM will also work with the Government of Burundi to assist with the drafting of a National Diaspora Policy.
In February 2014, IOM supported a one-week exchange visit of Burundi’s new Director of Diaspora to Nairobi, Kenya, where he met with the Kenyan diaspora-related institutions and over 300 members of the Burundian diaspora living in Nairobi.
Recent research estimates that over 350,000 Burundians live in the diaspora. Most migrated due to socio-political crises between 1960 and 2003. The majority of Burundians abroad reside in the East African region (Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda), as well as in Europe (Belgium, Scandinavia, and United Kingdom) and North America (Canada and United States).
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