Humanitarian agencies seek US$222 million to support Burundian refugees

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, together with 33 partners, is appealing for US$222.6 million to provide much needed humanitarian assistance for over 315,000 Burundian refugees during 2021.

For nearly seven years, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been generously hosting refugees from Burundi. While last year’s political transition has brought hope that more refugees may be able to return home, the majority of Burundians will continue to be in need of international protection throughout 2021.

This year’s funding appeal – the 2021 Burundi Regional Refugee Response Plan – seeks critical support for the provision of food, shelter and education, as well as access to healthcare and water, which are particularly needed to ensure prevention and response measures related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Increased international support is crucial to ensure Burundian refugees receive meaningful protection and care in neighbouring countries,’’ said Clementine Nkweta-Salami, UNHCR’s Regional Director for the East, Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region. “Committing resources is an important signal that the world has not forgotten Burundian refugees and their host communities.”

The appeal includes funding requirements to step up voluntary, safe and dignified return for those who choose to repatriate, and is complemented by a Joint Refugee Return and Reintegration Plan, which covers reception and monitoring of returnees, and support to help them reintegrate in Burundi.

In 2020, the response to the Burundian refugee situation was among the most underfunded globally with last year’s US$293 million appeal just 40 per cent funded. The consequences for the lives of refugees and their host communities were acute. They included cuts to food rations, inadequate shelters, shortages of medicines, and insufficient livelihood activities.

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