The European Commission is providing €1.5 million to meet the immediate humanitarian needs for assistance and protection of Burundians who are fleeing to neighbouring countries in great numbers.
"Such sudden and massive displacement is a humanitarian tragedy, and a serious challenge to neighbouring countries' capacities to accommodate refugees. It is a serious concern in an already fragile region" said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.
Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania are experiencing flows of refugees from Burundi, who cite intimidation, threats, and fear of violence as reasons for fleeing. Over 30 000 people, the majority of whom women and children, are estimated to have fled already, with more feared to follow suit. More than 24 700 new refugees were reported by 3 May 2015 in Rwanda alone.
The surge follows last week's clashes in Burundi's capital Bujumbura between police and opposition to President Nkurunziza, after he announced his candidacy for a third term as president at the upcoming elections in June.
The funding is part of the €47 million of humanitarian aid foreseen for the Great Lakes region for 2015.
The Commission is closely monitoring the situation and has expressed its concern at the increasing number of refugees.
Protests erupted in Bujumbura, capital of Burundi, after the announcement on 25 April 2015 that current President would run for a third term in the presidential elections.
As a result, the number of Burundians fleeing to Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania has steadily increased, and there are concerns that it could rise further in the coming weeks. Rwanda is currently the main recipient country, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.
The European Commission has played an important role in the Great Lakes region in providing humanitarian assistance to people affected by protracted conflicts.