BURUNDIAN REFUGEE CRISIS

Tanzania & Rwanda


CWS and ACT Alliance support Burundian refugees in a camp. Photo: Masha Tvaradze/Church of Sweden/ACT Alliance

Since the outbreak of violence in Burundi in April 2015, more than 270,000 men, women and children have fled the country, including over 150,000 into neighboring Tanzania. While open armed conflict has since subsided, reports continue of targeted assassinations, torture and other physical threats related to political conflict inside Burundi. Coupled with an economic collapse, it remains virtually impossible for displaced Burundians to return home safely.

During the past year, CWS has been at the forefront of the ACT Alliance emergency response in Tanzania. Working together with Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service a long-standing partner and member of the ACT Alliance, this emergency response has provided for the construction of 361 new water points, latrines and other sanitation facilities in Mtendeli and Nyarugusu refugee camps. More than 4,000 refugee men, women and children have benefitted from community-based psychosocial support, and more than 8,000 refugee youth have participated in 45 youth center events.

In 2015, CWS partnered with YWCA Rwanda to implement a street theater campaign on preventing sexual and gender-based violence and HIV awareness in Mahama Camp, home to 45,000 Burundian refugees. In the words of theater performance attendee: “This play made us aware of the high risk of getting infected with HIV. I thank the organizers for using theatre to address GBV in the camp by trying to change mindset of men.

With the refugee crisis now moving into protracted displacement that could last for several years, CWS, TCRS and other ACT Alliance members are prepared to continue emergency response activities and to expand access to livelihoods and self-reliance for refugee men and women.