Between Despair and Resilience
Burundian human rights defenders in protracted exile in Rwanda and Uganda
This report is based on extensive field and desk research conducted between April and August
2018, with the aim to identify the protection and professional needs of Burundian HRDs in a
situation of protracted exile in Rwanda and Uganda. The choice to focus on Rwanda and Uganda
was informed by the high concentration of Burundian exiled HRDs in these two countries. Indepth
interviews were conducted with 99 HRDs in exile in Uganda and in Rwanda, living in both
urban centres and refugee camps. A focus group discussion with a group of journalists in exile
in Kigali was also conducted. The interviewed HRDs include staff, members, and volunteers of
CSOs, journalists, lawyers, and artists. All were forced to flee Burundi between April 2015 and July
2018 because of their human rights work. These in-person interviews were complemented with
online communication with two HRDs in exile outside the African continent, online surveys with
15 respondents, and meetings with relevant stakeholders and diplomatic missions.
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