Burundi is facing a weakening socio-economic situation exacerbated by the devastating eects of natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic. It is among the world’s 20 most vulnerable countries to climate change, with over 80 per cent of internal displacements caused by natural disasters. Floods and landslides triggered by torrential rains and strong winds cause severe damage to households and essential crops in a country where over 90 per cent of the population relies on subsistence farming.
According to the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), there are 109,169 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as of February 2021, of which 55 per cent are women.
In addition, over 80,000 Burundians have returned through a voluntary repatriation programme from the United Republic of Tanzania and neighbouring countries since September 2017. The voluntary return of refugees has increased in recent months and is expected to intensify in 2021, thus placing additional burden on vulnerable communities in areas of return that are already scarce in available land, resources, and livelihoods. The country continues to host around 56,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Burundi has become a departure point for refugees seeking to resettle to third countries. It also sees high volumes of cross-border movement of goods and people – primarily traders, workers, refugees and travelers.
The needs of IDPs and returnees are like those of an emergency in terms of life-saving assistance, ranging from shelter, non-food items (NFI), and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support, to access to housing, land and property (HLP) and protection.
Several generations of post-confliict trauma have resulted in untreated and stigmatized ill mental health, alcohol and substance abuse, as well as sexual and gender-based violence and familial violence at the community level, thus requiring psychosocial support.
Protection issues in this context remain present.
Internal and cross-border trafficking in persons persists. An estimated 66 per cent of the victims are women and girls, often for forced domestic labour, sexual exploitation and forced marriage in neighbouring countries or the Gulf states. Burundian refugees, IDPs, and those residing in border provinces are most at risk of human trafficking.
Lastly, Burundi continues to grapple with the spread of COVID-19, of which the first official case was declared on 31 March 2020, alongside other health risks such as malaria and cholera and the continued risk of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) transmission from neighboring DRC.