Refugee Education Trust — Protecting through Education
RET Africa (headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya), has worked with Burundian refugees in Tanzania between 2002 and 2005, accompanying their return to Burundi in 2005/2006 and staying with them there to this day. Burundi suffered from violent conflict at the same time as Rwanda, but as the world focused on the genocide of the latter, Burundi was left forgotten for much of the crisis. At least 150,000 people were killed during the ethnic conflict in Burundi between 1993 and 1997, and an even higher number in 1972 (up to 300,000 is estimated). In 1972, the Hutu-led insurgency to attempt to wrestle power from the Tutsi majority led to huge bloodshed and conflict. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes to neighbouring Tanzania, remaining there throughout the next few decades until recently, when Burundi has finally begun to repair and rid itself of the conflict, giving many the opportunity to return voluntarily from the camps.
The summer of 2010 brings the parliamentary, presidential and local elections with it, elections designed to put a final stop to the years of civil conflict and turmoil, there are worries that there may be a re-emergence of violence, or that pressure to vote for one party over another will ensure the process is not as democratic as it hopes to be.
To date, the RET programmes in both Tanzania and Burundi have provided assistance to almost 100,000 direct and nearly 500,000 indirect refugees and returnees. Provision of assistance ranges from project to project, spanning the construction and renovation of schools and infrastructure, to the provision of materials and equipment, and the provision of teacher training, language courses, peace education courses, and other levels of secondary schooling.