A. Situation analysis
Description of the disaster
Sporadic inter-communal violence in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and attacks by armed groups in North Kivu in December 2017 resulted in mass internal displacement and population movement of thousands of Congolese refugees into neighbouring countries, including Burundi.
Since 24 January 2018, the South-East border of Burundi, more specifically the shores of Lake Tanganyika, have been recording a massive influx of Congolese refugees fleeing confrontations between the DRC armed forces and armed groups. Clashes started in Sud-Kivu province, specifically in Fizi and Baraka territory, forcing people to escape the crossfire through overloaded boats. The territory was under militia control when the Congo Air forces and ground troops intervened with the aim to recover the area.
The first wave of refugees arrived on 24 January 2018, at Lake Nyanza in the southern province of Makamba in the communes of Kabonga and Mugerama. The second wave was recorded at Rumonge port in two communes:
Kanenge and Kagongo. Most refugees that arrive in Burundi are under the age of 25 with unaccompanied children.
Residents have accommodated some refugees in their homes while others found shelter in schools and a some of them resided on the beach, in the open. Cases of severe watery diarrhoea and malaria are reported and treatment is provided at Lake Nyanza hospital.
At the onset of the influx, refugees arrived through five (5) different entry points. However, Burundian authorities decided to close three of the entry points and only two entry points remain officially open: Mugerama in Makamba and the port of Rumonge.
Burundian authorities in Rumonge and Makamba provinces have been overwhelmed by the massive refugee influx and are unable to provide sufficient assistance to the newly arrived refugees, resulting in requests for immediate humanitarian assistance.
Summary of the current response
Overview of the Host National Society and current response
The Burundi Red Cross Society (BRCS) operates through 18 branches spread out in all 119 districts country wide. The local Red Cross branches of Rumungu and Nyanza Lake (Makamba province), through which the National Society intends to implement this plan of action, have a network of volunteers trained in first aid, WASH in emergency and Safer Access. The Belgian Red Cross – Flanders supported the training of 10 volunteers (5 per branch) in Emergency Needs Assessment, First Aid and Early Warning Systems. Both branches have a pool of 20 volunteers and staff trained as part of the National Disaster Response Team (NDRT).
At the onset of the current refugee influx 5 entry points were identified. BRCS conducted a rapid needs assessment at the two main entry points Rumunge port and Nyanza Lac (Makamba province). The government has now closed three of the five entry points for security reasons; the remaining two are Rumunge and Nyanza Lac. The argument supporting this decision is that DRC militia members are using this population movement to enter Burundi. Closing three of the five entry points gives the government better oversight and facilitates security control.
Since the start of the increased influx, Burundi Red Cross volunteers in the area have been attending to refugees. The BRCS response aims to cover the needs of newly arrived refugees during the first two days of their stay in Burundi. Starting directly from their evacuation from the shores of the Lake Tanganyika and reception in the reception centres up to the moment of transfer to transit settlement. Registration and settlement takes a maximum of 48 hours, as they are not allowed to spend more than this allocated time in transit centres.
Burundi has three (3) WASH-trained regional Disaster Response Team (RDRT) members, two of whom are currently deployed as part of the National Society’s response to this situation.
The National Society also has emergency stocks available which contains soap, jerry cans, Aqua tabs, tarpaulins and family tents used for temporary shelter. Before the installation of the two WASH kit5, household water treatment products were distributed to the new arrivals. This DREF operation will also support the replenishment of this stock and provide for more to be distributed to the refugees at the transit centres and in the final settlement.
BRCS is an active member of the National Platform in charge of the coordination of humanitarian actors, which is managed under the Ministry of Security. The National Platform is divided in nine (9) sectors, of which the BRCS is lead for two, relief and dead body management. Additionally, the BRCS is responsible of managing a temporary camp, hosting DRC refugees, which can accommodate up to 600 people.
The BRCS Disaster Management team is responsible for emergency response including the monitoring and evaluation of the refugee response operation, with technical assistance from the Health and WASH team. Coordination will be at national, regional and local levels with all other stakeholders, including the National Platform (through the Office of the Minister of Security and the First Vice President).