Escalating political violence in the East African nation of Burundi is fueling a refugee crisis in neighbouring countries. As hundreds of thousands of people flee, resources are being pushed to breaking point.

Since unrest began in April 2015, 110,000 refugees – the majority of them children – have fled to two refugee camps in Tanzania, Nyarugusu and Nduta. Both camps have reached capacity, placing children at risk of infections, disease, abuse and neglect.

Burundian children on board a transfer bus to Nduta camp in Tanzania

Nyarugusu camp is now the world’s third largest refugee camp, with a total population of over 154,000, including Burundian and Congolese refugees.

To deal with the overcrowding in Nyarugusu, some new arrivals have been placed in communal shelters. Others have been placed in the camp's primary school, prompting the cancellation of classes. The football field, one of the primary recreation spots for the Congolese refugees, is now a bus station, where Burundian refugees are arriving to be processed. 


Tents in Nyarugusu camp
Tents in Nyarugusu camp
Children at Nyarugusu camp
Children at Nyarugusu camp
Burundian families queue to board a transit bus from Nyarugusu to Nduta camp
Burundian families queue to board a transit bus from Nyarugusu to Nduta camp
Clothes drying on a wall outside a laundry
Clothes drying on a wall outside a laundry

Safe spaces for kids

Plan International is running child protection services in Nduta camp, which opened in early October 2015, and the recently opened Mtendeli camp. Nduta camp already has more than 25,000 refugees.
The Tanzanian rainy season has begun and the top health conditions at the camps are malaria and diarrhoea, which will only get worse as areas flood and tents and toilets are damaged by heavy rains. This situation could also lead to a cholera outbreak in the camps, especially as there are known outbreaks in Burundi as well as several areas in Tanzania.

The response to the Burundian refugee crisis response is 64% underfunded. You can help by donating here.

110,000 refugees – the majority of them children – have fled to two refugee camps in Tanzania.

Where safety is guaranteed

Harelimana,17

Harelimana,17

“The journey from Burundi to Kaguna village in Tanzania took us four days. Life at Kagugna was tough- we had travelled with a bag of flour and some beans. But it was not enough so we only ate porridge once a day. Then when the flour ran out, we had to leave some for the baby – so we stopped eating for three days.

My mother was seriously ill throughout the journey so I had to take care of her and the younger ones. The biggest challenge at Kagunga was access to food and water because we had no money – I saw a woman die there. And my mother was so sick and I was worried she’d die too.

When we arrived at Kigoma we were all very tired. Life has started at the camp but there are still challenges around availability of food and water. There are also challenges of hygiene during my period; I have to cut up my clothes to use as pads. The camp is overcrowded so it becomes hard to dry them in the sun after washing.

I don’t understand the political conflict in my county but I feel it’s not a safe place to be, because we were living with tension of death. It’s better to be here where our safety is guaranteed”



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