A quarter million Burundian refugees

Burundian refugees being transported to Kigoma. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

Burundian refugees being transported to Kigoma by boat in 2015. There are now a quarter million Burundian refugees, says the UNHCR. That’s approximately 2.5 percent of Burundi’s population. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

There are now 250,000 Burundian refugees seeking shelter in neighbouring countries, including 131,834 in Tanzania.

Each week, an average of 1,000 new arrivals are entering Tanzania, which has taken more refugees than any other country, says the UN Refugee Agency.

Tanzanian aid organizations have been struggling to get adequate support for the influx of refugees who are crammed into overcrowded camps near Kigoma and warn the situation ‘will only get worse.’

“Despite recent high-level efforts to engage the government, we have not seen significant improvement in the security and human rights situation on the ground. The deteriorating economic situation is also a cause for concern which could trigger further displacement,” says UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming.

“We have also been receiving a growing number of refugee reports about detention and sexual and gender-based violence in transit,” says Fleming.

Former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa has been named as the East African Community (EAC)  facilitator of peace talks in Burundi, alongside mediator Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni.

The crisis was sparked when president Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans to run for a third term, which he won.

Read more: Burundi refugees brace for floods, cholera

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