• Burundi is still struggling to contain its second cholera outbreak of the year with 888 cases recorded from 1 June to the end of September 2019.
• The risk of cross-border transmission of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remains high. Six cases of EVD were confirmed in August in South Kivu, DRC, close to the border with Burundi.
• With UNICEF support, 1.33 million people, more than half children, were reached with key life-saving messages on Ebola.
• In 2019, a total of 155,373 children (91,688 boys and 63,685 girls) accessed critical protection services in addition to education and reintegration opportunities.
• From January to August, 31,459 new cases of children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) were identified and treated in health facilities supported by UNICEF.
• UNICEF has mobilized 70 per cent of the 2019 Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) funding to respond to the most essential needs of children and women in Burundi.
Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
Despite some improvements in the past year, the socio-political situation in Burundi remains precarious and the humanitarian situation fragile. In 2019, 1.77 million people in Burundi need humanitarian assistance. With 710,000 persons targeted for assistance in the Humanitarian Response Plan 2019 (HRP), the situation of the most vulnerable in society still shows persistent needs and is expected to be aggravated by natural disasters (floods, landslides and rainfall deficits in some parts of the country), population movements, epidemics including cholera and peaks of malaria, and the risk of cross border spread of Ebola. At the time of reporting, only 40 per cent of the total funding requirement, estimated at US$ 106.3 million, has been received by partners.
A total of 343,333 people, half of whom are children, have found refuge in neighbouring countries, mainly in Tanzania, Rwanda, the DRC and Uganda. Since 2017, 74,097 people (57 per cent children) have also returned to Burundi from Tanzania through the ongoing voluntary repatriation process, led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) within the tripartite agreement with the governments of Burundi and Tanzania. As of 31 July 2019, 16,232 Burundian refugees have been assisted to voluntarily return in 2019. A new bilateral agreement to repatriate all Burundian refugees by December 2019 was signed by the governments of Burundi and Tanzania on 24 August. The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) registered in 18 provinces continues to decrease and now stands at 106,197 people (60 per cent children) (IOM, August 2019).
The National Ebola Taskforce (NTF), under the leadership of the Ministry of Health (MoH), continues to coordinate the EVD preparedness and response planning. On 11 September 2019, the NTF presented a self-assessment of Burundi’s level of readiness to respond to an EVD outbreak in the country. While preparedness at the national level was reported as adequate, at the district level, preparedness is considered low. This is mainly due to the limited capacity to coordinate and respond at the decentralized level. In June and July 2019, the NTF revised the National Plan through the development of a comprehensive costed plan for each pillar for preparedness activities until 31 December 2019. As a result, since May 2018, the national taskforce for EVD has mobilized US$ 11.9 million to implement the preparedness plan, which represents 56 per cent of the revised planned budget (US$ 21.5 million in total).
After a significant increase in malaria cases and deaths by the last week of July, the number of cases has decreased to an average of 12,000 per week. However, since 9 September, which coincides with the rainy season, the number of cases started increasing again. According to epidemiological data from the MoH, the cumulative number of malaria cases reported during the first 38 weeks of 2018 was 3.2 million cases resulting in 1,588 deaths. For the same period in 2019, MoH registered 6.7 million cases and 2,361 deaths, making 2019 the worst out of the last three years for instances of malaria. With this trend, malaria remains one of the top health emergency priorities in Burundi.