BURUNDI: Crisis Continues as More People Expected to Flee Country; UNHCR

BUJUMBURA APRIL 26, 2016 (CISA) – One year after the crisis in Burundi began, UNHCR has revealed that almost 260,000 people have fled to nearby countries while thousands more are expected to do the same over the rest of the year unless a political solution is found.

UNHCR spokesperson, Leo Dobbs at a press brief held in Geneva on April 22, 2016 said, “People continue to arrive in neighbouring countries, albeit in smaller numbers in recent weeks as it becomes harder to cross borders.

Many asylum seekers or new arrivals report human rights abuses in Burundi, including torture, sexual violence, arbitrary detention, intimidation, forced recruitment by militia, killings and extortion.

To date, 259,132 people have fled the country.UNHCR expects the figure to rise to 330,000 by the end of the year.” Leo Dobbs noted that continuing international support was needed to help ease the tension and encourage an inclusive dialogue.

“With return of the masses not currently expected soon, UNHCR will in the coming year put greater emphasis on education for children and youth, and encourage refugees to become self-sufficient at a time when budget shortfalls are leading to cuts in some assistance,” he says.

UNHCR is seeking almost US$175.1 million for its Burundi crisis operations this year but has received only US$47.8 million to date, which translates to only 27 percent of its needs.

According to the UNHCR, “This means we are struggling to provide even the basics such as shelter, household items and latrines. The provision of services such as specialised counselling, care for the disabled and elderly, protection of the environment and even primary health care may also fall by the wayside”, Dobbs emphasised.

Burundian refugees have fled mostly to Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The crisis in Burundi began when, President Pierre Nkurunziza, who has been in office since 2005, decided to run for an unconstitutional third term.

The country’s Catholic Bishops, civil society and opposition political parties denounced Nkurunziza for the move. Nonetheless, Nkurunziza went ahead with polls which were boycotted by the opposition and got re-elected triggering the conflict .

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