How to apply for asylum in Burundi?

For registration the applicant must either visit the ONPRA main office in Bujumbura, to ONPRA provincial offices or to the border posts. The agents of the police, at the administration of the state, Red Cross, and other United Nations agencies can refer anyone who seeks asylum at the mentioned places in Burundi. 

Burundi, a country in East Africa, is one of the poorest nations in the world. Most of the people here don’t have enough to eat. As a result 50% of the population here is hungry but still, people from different countries seek asylum here. We often wonder how to apply for asylum in Burundi. Following are the ways described here for How to apply for asylum in Burundi. 

How to apply for asylum in Burundi?

For registration the applicant must either visit the ONPRA main office in Bujumbura, to ONPRA provincial offices or to the border posts. The agents of the police, at the administration of the state, Red Cross, and other United Nations agencies can refer anyone who seeks asylum at the mentioned places in Burundi. You can reach UNHCR Burundi or IRC to seek help in the process of applying for asylum in Burundi.

Document requirement is NIL for filing asylum in Burundi however, if the applicant is able to present any useful document or identity document then it is highly encouraged. Registration is done at ONPRA headquarters located in Industrial District avenue de l’OUA number 06 on the paved road. It leads to the central market commonly known as SIYONI for asylum seekers living in urban areas. At Cishemere Transit Centre (CTC) it is for those asylum seekers who do not have means to support themselves in urban areas and are waiting for the transfer to the camp once they obtain refugee status. 

Who is the authority for asylum in Burundi?

The National Office for Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (ONPRA) is the authority. Asylum in Burundi is the responsibility of the government through the technical structure under the ministry of the interior, ONPRA that provides and coordinates protection and assistance to asylum seekers and refugees.

ONPRA does the registration process and decides for all the asylum applications and issues refugee identity cards. While the Commissioner General leads the asylum process by pre-screening the seekers to check on if the Burudians have slipped in the process and after registration of the DA by ONPRA they issue temporary residence permits for asylum seekers. 

What to expect at the interview?

The first round of the interview will be a pre-screening interview conducted by CG. The questions will be related to identification of asylum seekers and the reasons that caused them to leave their country of origin are asked by Immigration Officers who decide the further procedure. If the applicant is found to have a valid reason for asylum they are referred to ONPRA for registration. 

Generally the asylum seekers are referred to ONPRA registration staff  with the identification form. This form is completed by the officer for registration in proGres database and enrolment in BIMS system.

The second round of interview is conducted by the ONPRA and more questions are asked. These questions are in relation to individual identification, place of origin, physical condition of asylum seekers in order to recognize the specific needs of the applicant and the reason for leaving their country of origin. 

How can the applicant include the family members in the file?

All the family members present with the head of family are registered from the first interview during the pre-screening by the CGM. When the applicant registers in the proGres database they provide all the  personal information about themselves with their family members present and absent. 

What if the applicant loses the UNHCR documents?

If the document is lost then the applicant must report to the police who will issue a certificate for the loss of the document that can be presented to UNHCR or ONPRA for obtaining a new document. This is done so the holders of the documents are accountable. 

Decision regarding the application

The decision can be either recognition of refugee status or rejection of asylum application. If the application is accepted a document that proves the refugee status will be given to the applicant. Incase of rejection of the application you will receive a letter mentioning the reasons for rejection of the asylum. The applicant has the right to appeal the decision to the appeal committee within 20 days of receiving the rejection on the application. 

How many refugee camps are there in Burundi? 

Almost 40% of the population reside in urban areas, whereas the majority of them are hosted in eastern and north eastern regions of Burundi. 

How do I ask for an asylum?

For an asylum in Burundi you need to have an appointment with RRO. The appointments can be made through the email. The steps include sending an email to newasylum2022@dha.gov.za

Asylum system in Burundi

The government of Burundi has a long tradition in hosting the refugees. It started with the allowance of  the Rwandan refugees in 1960’s. The government of Burundi has kept the borders open to accommodate asylum seekers once they arrive. 

Seeking asylum in Burundi is a difficult process. For most of the cases asylum is granted at the discretion of the government, and then if proven the applicant has to face financial destitution, harrasment, or physical danger for returning to their home country. 

Many people have fled from Burundi to seek asylum in other countries and at the same time there are people who wish to seek asylum in Burundi. The most successful applications for asking asylum here are from Rwanda and from the Congo. 

How IRC helps in Burundi?

The International Rescue Committee’s mission is to assist people whose lives and livelihoods have been shattered by conflict and disaster in surviving, recovering, and reclaiming control of their future. In 1996, they started assisting Burundians by providing lifesaving interventions and emergency aid to refugees and internally displaced people.

Now, the IRC is working to ensure the long-term reintegration of Burundian refugees and to support host communities by:

  • providing cash assistance in less than 48 hours during emergencies;
  • providing vocational training for young people and the most vulnerable;
  • assisting people in starting businesses by providing business and entrepreneurial skills training;
  • establishing village savings and credit associations (VSLAs) to provide financial safety nets;
  • repairing public infrastructures such as latrines, handwashing stations, water pumps, and water collection systems;
  • reuniting children who have been separated from their families due to displacement and assisting them in reintegrating into school and family life;
  • deinstitutionalizing children in orphanages
  • encouraging women’s empowerment and improving services for survivors of gender-based violence;
  • working with men and women to change beliefs and attitudes that tolerate gender-based violence;
  • working to protect the human rights and well-being of the most vulnerable people,
  • such as people with disabilities, and increasing community access to justice;
  • building the capacity of local partners for more sustainability.

Source: UNHCR help Burundi