With hundreds of Burundian refugees continuing to cross into Tanzania daily, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is doubling its efforts to ensure they receive vital life-saving assistance.
“Thousands of families, many with young children, are living in close quarters, stretching available resources to the limit,” said Andreas Sandin, operations coordinator, IFRC, eastern Africa. “Aid agencies are doing what they can to provide the basic necessities, but with new people arriving daily, we need to ramp up our activities quickly. To do so, we need the continued support of our partners, which is why we are asking for increased attention to be paid to this unfolding crisis.”
With a plan to assist 250,000 refugees, the IFRC has increased its Emergency Appeal in Tanzania from 2.1 million Swiss francs to 5.2 million Swiss francs. To date, the Appeal is 29 per cent covered. Additional funding will allow the IFRC, working with the Tanzania Red Cross Society, to expand on existing activities which focus on providing access to improved health care, clean water and sanitation, and epidemic prevention for refugees in the Mtendeli and Nyaragusu camps.
“When you have so many people living in such close quarters and in poor hygiene conditions, outbreaks of disease such as malaria and cholera become threats. It would not take much for an outbreak to run rampant through the camps or extend into host communities,” said Dr Adinoyi Adeiza, IFRC health coordinator, Africa region. “With the current heavy rainfall, we are continuing to distribute mosquito nets and raise awareness about proper hygiene throughout the camps.”
More than 232,000 people have fled Burundi since violence erupted in April 2015 before the election. Most have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, with 123,382 coming to Tanzania. Thousands moved into the Nyaragusu camp which, for the past 18 years, has been home to 65,000 Congolese refugees. The arrival of new refugees has stretched resources at the camp, originally built for 50,000 people, leaving the existing community also struggling to access services.
For the past nine months, staff and volunteers with the Tanzania Red Cross Society have been on the frontline of the response, providing health services in Nyarugusu camp, including a 150-bed hospital with surgical services, hospital annex and health posts to support the Burundian refugees.
The IFRC has also launched emergency operations in Rwanda, where more than 77,000 Burundians have fled.