Key Figures:

Food Insecure 645,0001
Refugees 2323152
Internally displaced 14,8043
Global Hunger Index 35.64
Poverty rate 66.9%5

Since April 2015, the civil unrest in Burundi following President Nkurunziza’s disputed re-election bid for a third term has led to an outflow of over 210,000 refugees to neighbouring DRC, Rwanda and Tanzania, and as far away as Uganda and Zambia. Inside Burundi, a tense political crisis and a climate of fear and intimidation have spread throughout the country. Border monitoring will be instrumental to ensuring the non-refoulement of all those fleeing for their lives, while providing valuable information on any spontaneous return.

The political crisis is having socio-economic consequences, especially for the most vulnerable. The IMF predicts that the economy could shrink by 7.2 per cent this year. About 70 per cent of the economic activity is concentrated in Bujumbura, and the capital is crucially important for the collection of tax revenue. In addition, several donors have threatened to or are withholding aid from the Government, while international aid accounts for 50 per cent of the budget.  All this combined is impacting the Government’s ability to provide basic services.

In 2016, humanitarian actors will assist new arrivals with shelter and non-food items, and old stocks must be replaced. Strengthening national systems is important to enable refugees to access basic services, such as health and education. School-age children make up half the refugee population, and national schools need support to increase their capacity so that these children can attend school. School-feeding programmes will combat malnutrition and help keep children in school. Expensive water trucking is still necessary until more semi-permanent water structures are ready. Waste-water removal and solid-waste disposal mechanisms must be upgraded and maintained to prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases.

Similarly, vaccines and immunization campaigns will help prevent infectious-disease outbreaks. Sustainable energy sources are needed for cooking and lighting in order to preserve the environment, as well as provide safety for women and girls. Opportunities for small-scale livelihoods projects will enable refugees to be self-reliant, especially in Uganda, where the Government promotes a no-camp policy. The hilly terrain poses particular challenges for delivering protection and assistance swiftly to refugees. To prevent the rapid depletion of resources and foster positive relationships among refugees and host communities, it is essential to provide support for the establishment of livelihoods opportunities, including small-scale vegetable and crop production. These activities will allow refugees to generate income to cover urgent needs and other household expenses, while additionally benefiting the host communities’ local economy. Appropriate means of transport, fleet management and communication tools remain fundamental to a safe and dignified refugee response.


1 IOM (This number excludes 79,400 people that were displaced prior to the 2015 elections)

2 IFPRI – Global Hunger Index, 2014

3 World Bank

4 WFP, Emergency Food Security Assessment, November 2015, in the provinces Bujumbura    Mairie, Bujumbura Rural, Cibitoke, Kirundo, Makamba and Rumonge.

5 UNHCR (http://data.unhcr.org/burundi/)