Press Releases, 22 May 2015
Today the UN Refugee Agency and 17 partners launched the Regional Refugee Response Plan to protect and assist up to 200,000 Burundian refugees in the neighbouring countries.
Since early April, nearly 100,000 Burundians have fled political turmoil, violence and intimidation and sought safety in neighbouring Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As the situation in Burundi remains tense and violence continues to be reported, aid agencies fear that the number of refugees may double over the next six months.
“Burundi does not need another crisis”, High Commissioner Guterres said, referring to Burundi’s civil war that lasted from 1993 – 2005 and sent hundreds of thousands of Burundians into exile. “After the progress that had been made under the Arusha peace accords, it is heart-breaking that people have to flee their country again.”
Guterres praised the neighbouring countries for keeping their borders open and called on the international donor community to support the Regional Refugee Response Plan. “The authorities and host communities have been very generous in welcoming the refugees and allowing them to share local resources. I hope that the international community will match this generosity”.
Under the plan, participating agencies appeal for USD 207 million for basic protection and assistance activities until September 2015, when the plan will be reviewed. Arriving refugees will be registered and documented, undergo immediate health screening and receive food assistance and basic relief item such as blankets, mosquito nets, soap and plastic sheeting. In Tanzania and Rwanda, the refugees will be transferred to refugee camps, where they will receive shelter material, domestic items and have access to basic health and sanitation services. In South Kivu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, many of the new arrivals found shelter with long-staying Burundian refugees who had fled the civil war. The arriving refugees will eventually also move to a site, and UNHCR and its partners plan to reinforce local services and facilities to benefit both refugees and the host community. Providing clean water, sanitation and health services as well as shelter are the main priorities of the Regional Refugee Response Plan.