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The Return of First- and Second-Generation Children

Data on the returnees to Burundi is scarce, but it is likely that children constituted a significant share of the returned population. UNICEF estimated that nearly 387,000 repatriated school-age children needed to be reintegrated into the Burundi school system in 2009. The International Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) reported that 56 % of a group of 21,000 expelled refugees from the last camp in Tanzania in 2012 were children (INEE 2013). A significant share of these children were born abroad. In 2010, the UNHCR reported that 82 % of those who returned in 2008 were second-generation returnees (Bunte and Monnier 2011). At the time of repatriation, many second- generation returnees were probably children who traveled to Burundi with their parents.

A 2008 UNICEF report stated that many child returnees faced language barriers because they were raised and educated in Tanzania where the main languages are English and Swahili. These children, consequently, confronted challenges reintegrating into the Burundi school system where they are taught in French or Kirundi. According to a study by Fransen and Kuschminder (2012), this led to higher dropout rates among returned children. The problem of language was also stressed by Sommers (2013). Fransen and Kuschminder (2012) argued that children who went to school in Tanzania generally received a better education than those who received an education in Burundi; therefore they are ahead of their peers but are still placed in classes according to their ages.

Sommers (2013), however, stated that because the schools in the Tanzanian refugee camps were closed in 2009 to encourage refugees to return to Burundi, many returned children had gaps in their education and struggled to reintegrate in the Burundi school system. The reintegration of children is also complicated by the hardship that returning families face in terms of access to land and livelihoods. In particular, young males have difficulties finding employment and reintegrating socially; therefore sometimes they return to Tanzania illegally (Sommers 2013).

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