UNICEF Burundi Humanitarian Situation Report – 31 March 2017

Situation Report
Originally published



  • With over 8 million malaria cases in 2016 and almost 2 million to date this year, the Ministry of Health has officially declared the malaria outbreak in Burundi on 13 March and is seeking support from the international community for preventing and treating malaria.

  • In February and March 2017, 200 children, primarily boys, living or working in the streets have been arbitrary arrested by the police. UNICEF and partners advocated for their release and the respect of children rights while a realistic and sustainable approach is found for these children.

  • Thanks go to the Government of Japan for their contribution to the WASH emergency response. Protection and Education remain largely underfunded.

Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs

The sociopolitical situation in Burundi remains tense and continues to spur on migration and humanitarian needs. During the reporting period, 33,608 people found refuge in neighboring countries (mainly in Tanzania, DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda) reaching a total of 400,733 refugees, the majority of whom continue to be children (54.6 per cent).

Many people leaving are confronted with extreme poverty and severe food insecurity in Burundi. In Tanzania, asylum seekers are struggling to get the refugee status as the Government stopped applying the prima facie policy as of 20 January 2017.

The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) registered in eleven provinces also increased to 148, 490 (IOM, February 2017); 57 per cent are children. Some 37 per cent of these IDPs have been displaced for s0cial and political reasons, while 63 per cent were forced out of their homes due to natural hazard. Almost 2/3 have noted severe food insecurity as a reason for leaving their homes.

The country is facing a major malaria outbreak which was officially declared by the MoH on 13 March 2017. The North and North health districts are the ones more affected by this outbreak. According to the MoH, the cumulative number of malaria cases reported during the first 10 weeks of 2017 is 1,960,620 with 869 deaths (MoH, 23 March 2017), this is higher than the same period in 2016 (1,804,258 cases and 841 deaths).

Natural disasters, epidemics and the persistent socio-politic crisis remain the major drivers of limited access to schools, dropouts, and insecurity in and around schools. In February 2017, heavy rains destroyed over 100 classrooms in the provinces of Bubanza, Makamba, Ngozi, Rutana and Ruyigi. The damage to schools and immediate needs were assessed by the Provincial Directors of Education. UNICEF supported the Ministry of Education for the rehabilitation of 79 damaged classrooms and set up temporarily learning spaces that benefited more than 1,000 children. In addition, 660 children aged 3-5 have benefited from Early Childhood Development activities, and 2,000 children received supplies to enable them to continue their schooling.

In February and March 2017, arbitrary arrests of children living or working in the streets by police continued. Reportedly, over 200 children were arrested, primarily boys. Most were forcibly returned to their commune of origin or released after detention in police cells, sometimes after more than one week of detention with limited access to food or water. These children are perceived as a threat to security because they might be recruited by armed groups in the event of a deterioration in the security situation. UNICEF provided support for a workshop led by the Ministry of Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender from 22-23 March, which included the participation of multiple ministries, civil society organizations and UNICEF, to study the issue of children living and working in the streets. Ongoing UNICEF and partner advocacy is focused on respect of the rights of children during these operations and a realistic and sustainable solution involving all stakeholders.