Burundi Regional Refugee Response Plan January – December 2017
REGIONAL STRATEGIC OVERVIEW
The outbreak of civil conflict, destabilization and deterioration of the economic situation in Burundi in April 2015 has led to refugee outflows to neighbouring countries. By the end of October 2016, some 322,300 Burundians had fled the country, primarily to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Nearly 100,000 Burundi refugees fled to these countries in 2016 alone, and the flight trend continues while internal displacement remains relatively low. Political instability has plunged Burundi into a multitude of challenges such as increasing insecurity, the decline of external financial support, and a dwindling economy, which are leading to a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation.
The Burundi crisis was internally categorized by UNHCR as a Level 2 emergency on 11 May 2015 and this classification remains. Efforts have been made by the international community to encourage peace dialogues at both national and international levels, but these have not yet yielded the desired results. While international efforts have stalled, a national dialogue regarding changing key provisions of the Constitution is ongoing. Meanwhile the human rights situation in Burundi is of particular concern, as numerous human rights organizations were suspended or closed down in 2016. In April 2016, resolution 2279 (2016) was unanimously adopted by the Security Council which urges the Government to guarantee fundamental freedoms for all and adhere to the rule of law, strongly condemning all violations and abuses of human rights. The resolution also calls on States in the region to contribute to a solution to the crisis in Burundi, and to refrain from supporting the activities of armed movements as well as uphold the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. The African Union offered to send a peacekeeping force of 5,000 soldiers in January 2016, which was refused by the Government. A UN police force, recommended by UN resolution 2303 (2016) in July 2016, also did not materialize as the Government rejected the resolution. In another distancing move, the Government of Burundi started the process of withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in October 2016.
As the overall political and economic situation remains unstable with no signs of improving in 2017, it is expected that people will continue to flee to neighbouring countries, mostly to Tanzania, where some 180,000 refugees are already accommodated in three camps. The increased needs in 2017 for refugee assistance, which are reflected in this Burundi Regional Refugee Response Plan (Regional RRP), show that the total refugee population is expected to increase to 534,000 people by the end of the year. Although this Regional RRP focuses on the four largest host countries, smaller numbers of refugees have fled to countries including Kenya, Malawi and Zambia.
Host governments in countries where capacity is already stretched will require continuous support in 2017 to provide assistance to the growing refugee population. As the crisis moves into its third year, the refugee response will continue to provide emergency assistance to the new arrivals and provide care and maintenance for those already in camps, while also seeking avenues to improve livelihood opportunities for refugees and host communities.