REGIONAL SITUATION OVERVIEW
As of 30 June 2021, some 276,000 Burundian refugees were hosted in the four main asylum countries, with 43,200 refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 49,000 in Rwanda,133,000 in Tanzania and 51,000 in Uganda. The 2021 Burundi Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP) includes an appeal for US$ 222.6 million for 36 partners to meet the critical needs of Burundian refugees in these four main countries of asylum and it outlines the response in Burundi for returning refugees as articulated in the 2021 Burundi Joint Refugee Return and Reintegration Plan (JRRRP).
The relative stabilization in Burundi since the 2015 crisis and the mostly peaceful political transition in May 2020 offered new perspectives for solutions to this now protracted refugee situation and triggered increased interest of Burundian refugees to return home. Since January 2021, a total of 44,144 Burundian refugees have been assisted in their voluntary repatriation to Burundi, including 3,715 Burundian refugees from the DRC, 21,342 from Rwanda, and 20,116 refugees from Tanzania. In addition, hundreds of Burundian refugees, mainly from Uganda, undertook self-organized returns.
In the first half of 2021, Burundian refugees continued to face multiple protection risks, in particular gender-based violence (GBV) including survival sex and early marriages as a result of limited access to livelihoods, school closures, overcrowded shelters, lack of domestic energy supply and reduced humanitarian assistance. Refugee children (over 50% of the refugee population) were exposed to particular risks. The situation of unaccompanied and separated children was particularly concerning, as many suffered neglect and adolescents have increasingly resorted to negative coping mechanisms.
The fact that the RRRP remains underfunded with only 34.5 per cent of the resources required (as of 31 August) led to acute gaps, including food ration cuts, inadequate shelters, lack of medicines, deficient WASH infrastructure and insufficient livelihoods activities. The large majority of the refugee population remained dependent on humanitarian assistance. The COVID-19 pandemic further compounded the situation. In Tanzania, the lack of nationwide measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, impacted the health and safety of PoCs during repatriations.