Tove Heggli Sagmo

PRIO and University of Oslo, Department of Sociology and Human Geography (Human Geography)

Tove Heggli Sagmo

Return and Reintegration in a Post-Conflict Society: A Case Study of Burundi

The proposed doctoral research aims to understand how migrants decide upon return to a post-conflict society and how those who return reintegrate. These questions will be explored through a case study of return migration to Burundi, concentrating on return from Norway, the United Kingdom and Tanzania. The analysis will be structured around the interplay between transnational and place-based factors in influencing return decisions and experiences of return. The decision-making and reintegration processes will be analysed with a long term perspective and seen as socially embedded processes that include the migrant’s communities in the countries of exile and origin.

My two main research questions are 1) how do immigrants in various situations reflect upon and decide about return migration and 2) how is return migration experienced by return migrants and the communities to which they return.

The Burundian case study derives from a research project at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) called ‘Possibilities and realities of return migration: perspectives on integration, exclusion and withdrawal’ (PREMIG). Migrant groups from five countries have been selected for the PREMIG project. Those are Afghanistan, Burundi, Iraq, Pakistan and Poland. The project is led by Senior Researcher Jørgen Carling and is funded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN) under the research programme on Welfare, Working Life and Migration (VAM).

Burundi has been the scene of several eruptions of violence and a longer period of civil war. The last period lasted more than a decade. Approximately 200 000 Burundians have perished since 1972 and hundreds of thousands of Burundians were internally displaced or became refugees in neighbouring countries (Watt 2008). The re-establishment of peace has led to massive voluntary return of Burundian refugees. Today, more than 6 per cent of Burundi's inhabitants are former refugees who have returned over the last six years from neighbouring countries (UNHCR 2010).