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EU ramps up humanitarian aid for Burundian refugees in Tanzania

Burundian refugees walking to Nduta refugee camp in the Kigoma region of northwest Tanzania, October 2015.
Burundian refugees walking to Nduta refugee camp in the Kigoma region of northwest Tanzania, October 2015. AFP Photo/Oxfam/Mary Mndeme

The European Union on Tuesday announced an additional 10 million euros in humanitarian aid to help Burundian refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries. Some 265,000 Burundians have fled the country since a crisis was sparked in April 2015 by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial decision to stand for a third term in office.


“The situation is really putting the host countries, particularly Tanzania, under stretched-to-the-limit conditions,” Alexandre Polack, spokesperson for the EU’s Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, told RFI. “We’ve identified a risk of infections and epidemics,” he added, as the UN refugee agency has identified malaria and diarrhoea as key health issues.

Q&A Alexandre Polack

The 10 million euros for assisting Burundian refugees is in addition to 12.2 million euros of EU humanitarian aid for the Burundi crisis provided since the start of 2016.

The money will help improve shelter, food, supplies of safe drinking water, access to hygiene and sanitation.

It will be particularly focused on providing “big support” to Tanzania, according to Polack, who does not rule out humanitarian aid being provided to other neighbouring countries, explaining that the dispersal of the money will be carried out in cooperation with the EU’s partners and a “needs-based” analysis.

Tanzania has been bearing the brunt of the displacement from Burundi with some 139,000 refugees having crossed the border since the start of April 2015, according to the latest statistics published by the UN refugee agency. Considerable numbers of refugees are also being hosted by Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The EU assistance will not be provided directly to governments, instead it will be channelled through the EU’s humanitarian partners including Oxfam, UNHCR, World Food Programme and Plan International.

This latest tranche of EU aid for Burundi supplements 55 million euros announced earlier in May for health and nutrition programmes for people within Burundi. The EU has suspended direct support to the Burundian government for failing to meet EU concerns over its human rights record.


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