Kampala, March 2012 – Very frequently, global conferences on migration and displacement take place without the participation of those directly affected by these phenomena. The RET, managing the DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative) scholarship project in Burundi, therefore wanted to give a voice to one of its beneficiaries, enabling a returnee or refugee student to participate in such an event and contribute to finding durable solutions to forced migration.
Thanks to additional funding from UNHCR Burundi, one student benefiting from the DAFI scholarship was selected through an essay writing competition to attend the 13th International Conference of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) in Kampala, Uganda. The selected student, Innocent, a 24-year-old Economics student at Hope Africa University in Bujumbura gave a joint presentation with the RET’s Head of Mission in Burundi, Barbara Zeus, on: ‘Higher education for long-term refugees – global overview and perspectives from within’ to an international and interdisciplinary audience.
After the conference, Innocent shared his experience: “I really learned a lot from the conference. For example, the conference allowed me to understand how refugees’ struggles to improve their lives are similar or differ all around the world. The conference was a great inspiration to me: I met different people, such as ministers, scholars, experts; it motivated me to continue my studies and build a better future for my community and myself. Although the conference has enlightened me on many points, I left it with even more questions: I have heard many proposals for solutions to refugees’ problems from researchers, but unfortunately, there were no commitments or clear action plans to address the problems discussed. This motivated me to contribute to these discussions, to propose and especially to push for concrete measures”.