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US Ambassador to Burundi visits displacement sites

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© OIM 2021/Triffin Ntore

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Bujumbura, 30 April 2021 - Today, Ms Melanie Harris Higgins, Ambassador of the United States to Burundi, accompanied by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and other humanitarian partners visited the internal displacement sites of Kigaramango, Kinyinya II and Mushasha I, located in Gatumba, in the commune of Mutimbuzi (Bujumbura Rural province). Accompanying the visit were the local authorities and the National Platform for Risk Prevention and Disaster Management.

Ms Melanie Harris Higgins was able to witness the living conditions of internally displaced persons in these sites, which have been set up as relief shelters for those most affected by the devastating floods, affecting up to 50,000 people, since 2020.

"I'm here to listen, hear and understand the flood situation. I hope to see what efforts are already in place and how much we can support," said Ms. Melanie Harris Higgins during her visit. The ambassador also had the opportunity to provide an update on the assistance efforts of humanitarian partners (such as WFP, OCHA, UNHCR and IOM) as well as on the gaps and risks that prevail. In 2020, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided funding for IOM Burundi to provide shelter and non-food items to the Gatumba disaster victims.

This visit is timely as the situation in Gatumba continues to worsen with the rising waters of Lake Tanganyika, which have affected thousands of people on the Burundian coast in recent weeks, particularly in some of the displacement sites visited. Indeed, some sites, such as Mushasha I, have been flooded again during the month of April.

According to an IOM Displacement Monitoring Matrix (DMM) assessment, the localities on the shores of the Rukaramu and Gatumba areas in the commune of Mutimbuzi (where the sites visited are located) are among the hardest hit.

IOM is grateful to the US Embassy and other partners for their daily support in assisting victims of natural disasters. Although some partners are already intervening to support people in need, there is still a gap that has been accentuated by recent events, particularly in terms of access to land, shelter and food, which are among the greatest needs of IDPs.

"Additional funding is needed to assist the newly affected people as well as the 4 490 people still living in the Gatumba IDP camps," said Vijaya Souri, IOM Chief of Mission in Burundi.

CONTACT

Triffin Ntore, IOM Burundi, tntore@iom.int, Tel +257 75 150 145

Lauriane Wolfe, IOM Burundi, lwolfe@iom.int, Tel +257 79 999 735

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