Violence in Burundi has seen an exodus of refugees heading to neighbouring Rwanda, the DR Congo and Tanzania. The United Nations' refugee agency, UNHCR, said that as of 23 May, 46,000 refugees were in Tanzania, with 36,000 in Rwanda and the DR Congo combined.
A failed coup attempt on May 13 resulted in another wave of civilians leaving the country. Foreign election supporters have withdrawn their contributions.
The situation in Burundi is deteriorating. A cholera outbreak declared on May 17 in the refugee camps over the border in Tanzania has heightened the humanitarian crisis and added pressure to already weakened health services.
A joint team of LWF World Service and Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service (TCRS) staff are working in the Kasulu and Nyarugusu refugee camps, both 30km south of the Burundi border inland from Kagunga village, which is the first port of call for refugees heading to Tanzania.
Some 90,000 people are packed into Nyarugusu, which was designed for 50,000. A number of existing refugees from the DRC already live in the camp. Camp management has taken the careful decision to accommodate two families per shelter, as more people arrive from Kagunga. A contingency plan to extend the refugee camp and build a new camp 3km away in the Migunga hills is being considered.
The LWF, in partnership with TCRS, is one of the few agencies working in the region, under the coordination of the UNHCR.
Acute needs of refugees include clean drinking water, latrines, shelter and tracing procedures so children can be re-united with families. The government of Tanzania has called upon international and local agencies to respond urgently. The extreme congestion of refugees at Kagunga village, as well as the scattered nature of the emergency sites and the difficulties of getting aid to Kagunga are hampering emergency relief.
The LWF and TCRS have a water, sanitation and hygiene team on the ground working in Nyarugusu camp. Both organisations have been requested by the Ministry of Home Affairs to urgently take on the task of building water storage units, latrines and hand-washing stations.
TCRS has already given aluminium bowls, cooking pots, hand axes, machetes, plastic sheeting, plastic buckets, baby layettes and blankets, used clothes, mosquito nets and quilts. The two organizations will also provide food to refugees at Kagunga, as well as the local community, which is feeling the strain of the influx. It will survey the site of the new camp at Migunga hills, build the access road, and eventually assist with camp management and water and sanitation provision.