UN renews concern over Burundi situation, updates funding needs


The United Nations refugee agency has renewed its concern over the unstable situation in Burundi, which continues to force people to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

The East African country descended into chaos in April 2015 following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s declaration that he would seek a controversial third term in office, one which he went on to win in the July vote.

Since then, more than 410,000 refugees and asylum seekers have been forced to flee their homes, and the numbers are still rising.

The UN projects that the total refugee population is expected to grow to over half a million by end 2017, making it potentially the third biggest refugee situation in Africa.

Currently Tanzania is hosting the majority of Burundian refugees, with some 249,000 already accommodated in three overcrowded camps. Rwanda hosts about 84,000 refugees, with another 45,000 in Uganda and some 41,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The situation has prompted the UNHCR to update its funding needs for Burundi to US$250 million from US$214.

In the midst of the refugee situation in the country, the WFP last month reported that its trucks carrying aid to Burundi were denied entry for “security reasons.” The shipment would have fed some 112,000 people.

Former Burkina Faso president Michel Kafando was earlier this month appointed the new UN envoy for Burundi, and is tasked with ending the political crisis there.