UN: UN refugee agency says thousands fleeing in Burundi

New York, US (PANA) - One year after the crisis in Burundi began, the UN refugee agency
(UNHCR) said that almost 260,000 people have fled the country, warning that the number
could increase by thousands throughout the year unless a political solution is found and
a civil war averted.

According to UNHCR, "to date, 259,132 people have fled the country, and we are planning
our humanitarian response based on a figure of some 330,000 refugees by year’s end."

UNHCR spokesperson Leo Dobbs in statement on Saturday, stated that, "in spite of the
increasing difficulty in crossing borders, people continue to arrive in neighbouring
countries with reports of human rights abusesin Burundi that include torture, sexual
violence, arbitrary detention and extortion.

Mr. Dobbs said: "Continuing international support is needed to help ease the tension
and encourage an inclusive dialogue, saying that, "with mass returns not currently
expected soon, the refugee agency 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 also noted that it is seeking almost US$175.1 million for its Burundi crisis operations
this year, yet has to date only received US$47.8 million or some 27 per cent.

"This means we are struggling to provide even the basics such as shelter, household
items and latrines, and the provision of services such as specialized counselling, care
for the disabled and elderly, protection of the environment and even primary health
care may also fall by the way side," he explained.

The spokesperson also said the situation in the last one year is tense and marked by
sporadic violence, and more than 400 people have been killed, and at least 25,000
people fled to safer areas in Makamba, Rutana and Kirundo, but freedom of movement
was becoming a source of concern.

Mr. Dobbs said that, while people continue to cross to neighbouring countries from
the provinces of Ruyigi, Muyinga, Kirundo, Rutana, Makamba, Rumonge, Bujumbura
and Kibitoke, small numbers have been returning spontaneously.

He, however, noted that, worsening economic conditions inside Burundi has continue
to exacerbate the situation, fuelling further displacement and discouraging refugees
and thousands of internally displaced from returning home under.

He also added that the large refugee influxes would present further challenges to the
already arduous conditions.

The UNHCR said: "Of the 135,941 Burundian refugees in Tanzania, more than 71,000
live in an overcrowded camp in Nyarugusu, which has become one of the largest
refugee camps in the world."

It also said that, already the refugees are living under very hard conditions, and the
country continues to admit an average 130 people a day.

"In Rwanda, host to some 76,404 people, arrivals continue to be registered at a rate
of about 130 per week. Urban refugees have been increasingly approaching UNHCR
to move to Mahama camp, in the Eastern province, after spending the last of their
savings to keep alive.

"Uganda, where some 24,583 have sought safety, the April arrival rate has levelled
off to about 25-35 a day, and last week, 167 Burundian refugees who arrived at the
Nakivale settlement reported difficulties crossing borders, especially without
papers," it stated.

At the same time, the UN agency said refugees in the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, which currently accommodates 22,204 people, have steadily increased and
in the first three months of this year registered 900 people, and most are staying
at the Lusenda camp, which, with a capacity for 18,000, now hosts more than
16,000 refugees.

"Despite space restrictions and capacity problems, these countries generously
continue to accept people, but will need increased international support to host

"We urge host countries to keep their doors open and donors to continue and step
up support for the refugee response," UNHCR concluded.
-0-  PANA   AA  23April2016

23 april 2016 13:33:34

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