UNHCR calls for more support to Burundian refugees

22Jun 2016
Prosper Makene
The Guardian
UNHCR calls for more support to Burundian refugees

THE United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has said more resources are required to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs of refugees living in Kigoma-based camps.

UNHCR Representative in Tanzania, Chansa Kapaya made the call on Monday when speaking at the climax of the World Refugees Day.

“The international community has been very generous in providing support to the Burundian refugee emergency response, and has demonstrated a willingness to share the burden with Tanzania, UNHCR and other UN agencies and NGO partners, who have responded to the humanitarian call. But, more resources are needed,” she said.

Kapaya also said that UNHCR Tanzania is funded at 40 percent for its Burundi emergency response this year with a gap of US$ 44.8 million as of June 19, 2016 and as such, the response to the Burundian refugee emergency in the country remains significantly underfunded.

She pointed out that the UNHCR’s humanitarian response is based on a figure of some 330,000 refugees, across the region by year’s end.

“The Burundi refugee influx came at a time when the UNHCR Operation in Tanzania was focusing its efforts on finding durable solutions that would permit the existing refugee population to rebuild their lives,” she said.

She added: “In this regard, the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania had just announced the historic, unprecedented granting of naturalization to the 1972 Burundian refugees in Tabora and Katavi regions, while the United States of America had agreed to resettle 30,000 Congolese (DR) refugees living in Nyarugusu camp in Kigoma region.”

Tanzania, however, still kept its borders open to people fleeing political and civil unrest in Burundi.She underscored that since the beginning of the influx, over 141,000 Burundians have fled to Tanzania in search of refuge making it the largest host to Burundian refugees in the region.

“During the peak of the influx and even now, one year later, women and children account for 77.9 percent of the new arrivals. A significant number of newly arrived Burundian refugees, including children born in Tanzania (63,961) are sheltered in Nyarugusu camp, which is now one of the largest refugee camps in the world hosting 131,733 refugees,” she said.She went further saying that conditions are very difficult and UNHCR has put a priority on decongesting the camp.

“The remaining refugee population resides in Nduta and Mtendeli refugee camps, opened in October 2015 and January 2016 respectively, to ease congestion in Nyarugusu and at the same time host the new arrivals.

However, Nduta reached its capacity at the beginning of April 2016 and is capped at approximately 55,000 Burundian refugees; new arrivals from border points are now received in Mtendeli whose population has increased to 21,796 refugees,” she said.

She noted: “A third site, Karago, is projected to be re-established as a refugee camp, although the limited availability of water has frustrated efforts to operationalize it. Uncertainty remains as to whether it would be able to support the expected 50,000 refugees.”

On his part, Kigoma Regional Commissioner Emmanuel Maganga commended the efforts done by UNHCR in helping refugees in Kigoma.

“We laud the efforts done by the UNHCR in assisting refugees in the country and we call upon the donor community to give out their support to help refugees in Tanzania,” he said.

However, with the outbreak of violence in Burundi in April, nearly 123,400 individuals fled to the United Republic of Tanzania, which, as a result, hosted the third-largest number of new refugees.

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