Mathieu Nsanzugwimo fled Burundi in 1972 and went to Tanzania. He returned from there in 2008 but found that his land had been taken by relatives. About two years after his return he was attacked with a machete by neighbours and had to spend a year in hospital. He keeps a weapon in his house for self defence and has been trying to get his land back through the National Commission for Land but so far, to no avail.
"The plants around the house are to stop anyone entering the compound quickly, to give me time to cry out for help. We don't feel safe here."
Over the past decades, hundreds of thousands of Burundians fled their homes due to political and ethnic conflict, with many settling in refugee camps in Tanzania. As the situation improved in Burundi, these camps have closed, with refugees either returning home or settling in Tanzania. The last camp, which hosted nearly 37,000 people, closed at the end of 2012 resulting in a flow of up to 1,500 people a day returning to Burundi. With funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), the International Rescue Committee (IRC) helped returning refugees reintegrate by providing legal advice on land rights as well as supporting people to register births and marriages in order to obtain the necessary documents to access health care and education.