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Rwanda: Burundi refugees Emergency Appeal Operations Update no. 4 (MDRRW013)

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Situation Report
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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

It has been more than a year since election violence in Burundi resulted in a number of casualties in the country especially, the capital of Bujumbura. More than 269,375 people fled Burundi, seeking safety in the neighbouring countries of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia (UNHCR July 2016).

Since April 2015, over 79,000 Burundi Nationals have sought refuge in Rwanda due to tension and violence occurring pre and post presidential elections which was held in July 2015. On 25 April 2015, Burundi’s incumbent president announced he would stand for a third term in the elections which took place 21 July 2015, he was re-elected and sworn in on 24 July 2015.

In Rwanda, the Burundians refugees were taken to Mahama camp located in Eastern Province in Kirehe District (270 km from Kigali). Three smaller transit camps and dozens of entry points host incoming refugees for a few days until they can be transported to Mahama. There are over 49,452 refugees in Mahama camp alone (see table 1 below). There are still urgent needs within the entry points, transit camps, and Mahama camp, particularly in hygiene promotion, psychosocial support, beneficiary communication, first aid, protection and environmental protection. The entry points and transit centers have minimal support from humanitarian agencies.

According to UNHCR, there are more than 25,000 urban refugees living in Rwanda’s Capital City Kigali and other urban centers in Eastern Rwanda. All of these refugees have been registered at a designated venue by UNHCR and the majority are renting houses within host communities. There are increasing needs amongst the urban refugee population, as they struggle to access markets, healthcare, education and affordable housing. UNHCR recently announced its commitment to begin offering health and education services to this community.

A third group in need, identified by Rwandan Red Cross Society (RRCS), is the host community surrounding Mahama camp, consisting of 6 small villages which make up Munini (population 5,923 people). Following needs assessment done within this community, RRCS identified urgent needs in food security, water and sanitation, and violence prevention (considering potential conflict between the host and refugee communities). There are no agencies currently supporting Munini host community.

Due to overcrowded living conditions within Mahama camp and the Munini host community (which the Mahama refugees visit daily for supplies and entertainment), both groups are also at high risk of waterborne diseases and acute water diarrhoea (cholera) outbreaks. With the influx of refugees since 14 months, the resources within Munini are depleted as the refugees and host community compete for water, firewood and market supplies.

This has led to minor conflict between the 2 groups, but has the potential to worsen, if not addressed quickly. The initial 50 ha land that the Rwanda Government had allocated to UNHCR had the capacity to host about 25,000 people, has already been exceeded with the main camp population recorded at over 49,000 people.