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Building a New Burundi through Humanitarian Action in Exile
A conversation with Globally Renowned Burundian Humanitarian Marguerite “Maggy” Barankitse
Following the violent events in 2015 which plunged Burundi into a profound political and security crisis, the country continues to be in the media, particularly in view of the 2020 elections which add to existing tensions. Hundreds of thousands have fled Burundi since 2015.
Maison Shalom, which was founded by Marguerite “Maggy” Barankitse during the civil war following the assassination of the first democratically elected President in Burundi in 1993, remains at the forefront of visionary humanitarian action. Having been forced into exile themselves, Ms Barankitse and her team’s work among the Burundian refugee community in Rwanda is an example of how to implement the ambitious objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees.
Ms Barankitse and her team continue to implement their vision to help their fellow Burundians live their lives in dignity, convinced that this is the only way to break the cycle of violence that has been tearing apart Burundi and its neighboring countries. This is done through socio-cultural activities, targeted education for the youth and activities contributing to sustainable development of the region. In the community center “Oasis of Peace” in Kigali and in the professional training center which was established at the Mahama Refugee Camp in eastern Rwanda, Maison Shalom offers art workshops, music, English courses, online education and vocational training. They offer grants to enable students to continue their studies in Rwanda and in France, and provide microcredits allowing refugees find economic independence.
Ms Barankitse’s visit in Geneva provides for an opportunity to meet with one of the leading Burundian humanitarians and defenders of human rights, known for her action (Nansen Award, Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, Médaille de Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, Opus Prize, Four Freedom Award, among many others) as well as for her courage and outspokenness.
Interview by Laurent Sierro, Journalist Keystone-ATS, Journalist-in-residence GCSP.
The interview will be in French, the Q&A will be in French and English. The discussion will be followed by a verre de l’amitié.