News

Burundi refugees live in squalor in Tanzanian camps, but they still prefer life there

Share Bookmark Print Rating
Burundian refugees await registration at the Nyarugusu camp in Tanzania. AFP PHOTO | STEPHANIE AGLIETTI

Burundian refugees await registration at the Nyarugusu camp in Tanzania. AFP PHOTO | STEPHANIE AGLIETTI 

By ELIAS MHEGERA

Posted  Saturday, January 2   2016 at  18:20

In Summary

  • The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Unicef have warned of the displacement of people and food insecurity and the risk of a full-blown humanitarian crisis if no progress is made on the political front.
  • They said that children are bearing the brunt of the violence in Burundi, noting that many have been killed, wounded and arbitrarily detained, while many more are living with the constant fear of violence.
  • According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 225,000 Burundians have fled the country since April 1, 2015 to the neighbouring countries of Tanzania, Rwanda, DR Congo and Uganda, 54.2 per cent of them being children below 17 years.

The post-election stalemate in Burundi continues, even as the talks mediated by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni were revived on December 28 in Entebbe.

At least 87 people were killed on December 11 in renewed attacks in Bujumbura.

On December 17, the African Union Peace and Security Council authorised the deployment of an African Prevention and Protection Mission to Burundi (MAPROBU).

The 5,000-strong force including military and police will be tasked with protecting civilians and creating the conditions for dialogue.

But there have been rising concerns over the humanitarian situation in the country, with relief organisations calling for urgent help.

The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Unicef have warned of the displacement of people and food insecurity and the risk of a full-blown humanitarian crisis if no progress is made on the political front.

They said that children are bearing the brunt of the violence in Burundi, noting that many have been killed, wounded and arbitrarily detained, while many more are living with the constant fear of violence.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 225,000 Burundians have fled the country since April 1, 2015 to the neighbouring countries of Tanzania, Rwanda, DR Congo and Uganda, 54.2 per cent of them being children below 17 years.

The latest Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) issued by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for the provinces of Kirundo and Makamba indicates that almost 15,000 people have been displaced internally. There have been additional reports of displacement within the city of Bujumbura.

According to the UN agencies, the figures cannot be confirmed through assessment due to the security situation in the capital and the reluctance of people to give out information for fear of being linked to a political agenda. This continues to complicate efforts by humanitarian agencies to respond to the needs of the displaced people and their host communities.

Nyarugusu camp

The EastAfrican visited the Nyarugusu refugee camp in Kasulu district in western Tanzania, where Burundians are living in deplorable conditions compounded by the ongoing rains.

On arrival at the camp, the first thing one notices is the lack of water.

The officer in charge of the camp, Sospeter Boyo, said aside from the physical trauma, at least 800 refugees at the camp have been diagnosed with psychiatric problems.

Some of the refugees say they are living with the trauma of seeing their relatives abducted and killed or going missing.

1 | 2 | 3 Next Page»