Currently, over 300,000 Burundian refugees are displaced in neighbouring countries. In Burundi itself, around 136,000 internally displaced people require humanitarian assistance.
Since its independence in 1962, Burundi has faced periods of instability and conflict. The EU provides support to Burundian refugees in their host countries and to returnees who voluntarily go back home.
What are the needs?
Burundian refugees are mainly hosted in Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Uganda. They rely entirely on international assistance to cover their basic needs, such as food, health, water, sanitation, hygiene, shelter, and education.
Most refugees live in camps where capacities and resources are stretched to the limit. The main needs remain to provide:
- permanent shelter despite overcrowded conditions
- enough food for refugees
- sufficient health facilities for basic healthcare needs
- a safe learning environment for children
- protection for vulnerable refugees
Countries hosting Burundian refugees such as Tanzania, Rwanda, the DRC, and Uganda have entered into agreements with Burundi to facilitate the voluntary return of refugees. Some 150,000 Burundian refugees have chosen to return with the assistance of the UN Refugee Agency.
Also, the coronavirus pandemic has reached Burundi with over 1,253 cases officially confirmed as of 20 January 2021.
Since violence broke out in Burundi in 2015, it has become more difficult to get the resources required to cover the refugees’ needs. The regional Burundi refugee response plan has some of the lowest levels of funding globally.
How are we helping?
The EU continues to monitor the humanitarian situation in Burundi. In 2020, we provided nearly €8.5 million in humanitarian funding to assist Burundian refugees in neighbouring countries and those who voluntarily returned to Burundi.
Refugees receive life-saving in-kind and cash-based food assistance. Cash-based assistance allows refugees to acquire essential household items.
Additional nutritional support is given to pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, children under 5 years of age, chronically ill people and hospital patients.
EU humanitarian support enables the registration of Burundian refugees in camps and settlements in the region, which is often a precondition for receiving assistance, both for refugees and returnees.
Our funds also help to protect refugees, as well as raise their awareness on COVID-19. Refugees are informed about the symptoms, how the virus is transmitted, and how to stop it spreading.
The EU supports protection assistance given to particularly vulnerable groups. These may include children, women, single parents, survivors of sexual abuse, older people, and people with disabilities. These groups risk being marginalised and unable to access help services.
In addition to supporting victims, protection actions also include measures to reduce the risks of violence and abuse in refugee camps.
Having spent years outside their home communities, rebuilding their lives back in Burundi after exile is a challenge for returnees and the receiving communities. EU funding supports returnees by promoting of community dialogue with the receiving communities to identify humanitarian needs and provide solutions together. Returnees also receive help to access basic services, e.g. acquiring birth certificates, which is often a prerequisite for this.
Burundi is prone to natural hazards, e.g. floods and landslides. The EU supports disaster preparedness in the country by increasing the response capacity of first-line groups: the Burundian Red Cross and the at-risk communities themselves.
In addition, the European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. At least €3 million out of this funding will be supporting vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable in the Great Lakes region.
Last updated: 10/06/2021
Picture: © European Union (photographer: Anouk Delafortrie)
Facts & figures
310,000 Burundian refugees in neighbouring countries:
- 147,000 in Tanzania
- 65,000 in Rwanda
- 48,000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo
- 49,000 in Uganda
120,000 Burundian refugees have returned home since 2017
EU humanitarian funding:
- nearly €8 million in 2020 for Burundian refugees and returnees
- around €75 million since 2015 to assist Burundian refugees and Burundians