Summary: CHF 70,223 was allocated from the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Tanzania Red Cross Society (TRCS) in delivering immediate assistance to approximately 38,000 Burundian refugees who were to be repatriated to Burundi following a decision made by the Government of Tanzania, between July and December 2012.
TRCS focused on providing the returning refugees with temporary shelters at way stations and shelters for first aid at the resting sites. The returnees were also provided with bottled drinking water, which was an essential requirement for the returnees’ health during the repatriation movement.
Emergency health provision was a key activity in the repatriation process and this was ensured before and during the repatriation. Another important activity was the distribution of information, education and communication materials on key health issues relevant to returning refugees. The visibility of the Red Cross Movement, its staff and volunteers was equally important during this operation and key actions relevant to this were undertaken. Volunteers worked round the clock to ensure that the operation became a success.
The major impacts of the intervention to the beneficiaries include the enhanced safety and dignity of the returnees as well as the increased knowledge of refugees on key health issues in the repatriation process. Against the initial perception of the refugee community that the repatriation operation would have been forceful, the operation was conducted in a highly safe and dignified manner. Even when the government decided to introduce the orderly return arrangement at the end of October 2012, the repatriation convoys carried out in November and December 2012 were a recorded success in terms of the safety and dignity aspects of the returnees.