Burundi refugee crisis

Burundi is one of the poorest countries on the planet. More than a decade of wars has left the country in an extremely difficult situation. Fear of violence and intimidation is forcing thousands of people to flee their homes. Over 250,000 people have fled Burundi and the majority are in Tanzania.

There are now over 140,000 refugees from Burundi in Tanzania, overstretching the capacity of the local government and aid agencies to respond. Tens of thousands of people are in urgent need of clean water, adequate sanitation, health care, food and shelter. Without these basic needs being met, the risk of disease like cholera and malaria is dangerously high.

Existing camps are already beyond capacity with schools and churches being turned into temporary accommodation while more appropriate shelter can be built. Many families have spent weeks in exposed, cramped conditions and now either sheltering with hundreds of others in schools or under trees to escape the hot sun.

Oxfam is there, but funds are urgently needed to provide essential materials such as tents, water pipes, water storage tanks and medical supplies.

How Oxfam is helping

Oxfam is working in both Nyarugusu and Nduta refugee camps, including the provision of all water and sanitation facilities (to approx 135,000 people), emergency food security, the distribution of hygiene kits, hand washing promotion and the installation of child friendly latrines.

Most recently, livelihoods programs have been introduced, including income generation activities developed to make use of people’s existing skills and knowledge (ie, bee keeping, farming). Cash for work projects have also been initiated to improve the camp infrastructure and protect the environment (drainage facilities, better roads, planting trees).

"People are thirsty and tired; many are sick. They've gone through so much already just to get to this point, and what they need now is clean water, food and a place to sleep. Oxfam is ready to scale up our response but we urgently need funds to do so," said Oxfam Tanzania Country Director Jane Foster.

Oxfam is working towards developing a more sustainable approach, implementing solar pumping stations for water, semi permanent latrines for families, and developing the capacity of local partners.

Oxfam in Tanzania

Oxfam has had presence in Tanzania since 1962.

Oxfam has been responding to the recent influx of refugees in Tanzania since May 2015 through the provision of WASH services and technical leadership and capacity building for partner organizations. Oxfam is currently on the ground in Nyarugusu, Nduta and Mtendeli refugee camps.

Oxfam’s work in emergency response is done in partnership with local organizations.  These partnerships were established out of previous Oxfam refugee response in the 1990s in Tanzania and Oxfam has built strong relationships with them. Working with local partners that already know the composition of the community/refugees accelerates and improves the identification of the most vulnerable sections of society, and effectively supports the development of local institutions that uphold the rights of marginalized people. In turn, these organizations have built up trust and acceptance with the local communities and refugees and have successfully implemented programming while harnessing traditional coping mechanisms and community structures for increased sustainability and impact.

Oxfam in Burundi 

Oxfam’s has been working in Burundi since the 1990s. In addition to emergency assistance, our long-term our work focuses on:

  • Food security, by improving people’s access to land and to other means of agricultural production.
  • Social justice, by improving living conditions and encouraging the participation of the population, civil society, local communities and marginal groups in public governance and development policies.
  • The right to be heard, by promoting access to information, freedom of expression and human rights awareness.
  • Women’s rights, by supporting women leadership and an active civil society.

Oxfam aims to ensure that everyone in Burundi will live in a society free from violence, where people will be able to exercise their freedom and their rights with a decent quality of life.

Our objective is to put the economy and development policies to work to serve the interests of the people, promoting effective prevention measures to avoid the emergence of ared conflicts and humanitarian disasters, and to reduce the impact of natural catastrophes.

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Oxfam Canada's Emergency Response Fund (ERF) enables us to provide timely, appropriate responses to emergency situations and support reconstruction work. The ERF ensures that Oxfam can quickly respond wherever and whenever the need is greatest.

Updated June 16, 2016

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