Number of Burundian refugees to TZ drops, refugee numbers worldwide rapidly increasing

Burundian refugees.Photo credit/UNHCR

Burundian refugees.Photo credit/UNHCR

The number of Burundians fleeing to Tanzania amid threats of violence in the run-up to the presidential election has significantly dropped to 5 from over 1,000 a day.

Tanzania Home Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Isaac Nantanga told this website Sunday the number of refugees crossing into Tanzania through various boarder routes in Kigoma is drastically going down.

The Spokesman said for the past few weeks between 1000 and 2000 Burundians have been crossing to Tanzania on a daily basis.

Majority of the refugees enter Tanzania through Kagunga border point and they mostly come from Makamba and Lumonge areas in Burundi, they have been heavily hit by the political crisis.

But the ministry spokesman also says the drop in numbers to near zero could be attributed to some semblance of stability in the central African nation.

He reiterated the government commitment to improving refugee camps in the region to efficiently cater for the people in need.

The Burundian conflict has forced almost 100, 000 Burundians out of their country as they seek refugee in neighbouring countries. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Tanzania is the number one destination for Burundian refugees, the country is hosting more than 50, 000 refugees.

At the end of May, Cholera broke out in Tanzanian refugee camps of Nyurugusu and Kigoma, there were more than 4,000 cases, out of these, 31 people died, but the government and humanitarian agencies have responded aggressively and the number of new cases have dramatically reduced.

Besides Tanzania, Burundian refugees are in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Uganda.

These refugees have claimed insecurity, persecution, torture and harassment among other human rights abuses at the hands of security agents and the Imbonerakure militia, a youths militia affiliated with the governing party CNDD-FDD and President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Regional leaders, the African Union (AU) and the international community have called for their disarmament and the government has said it will setup a commission to “withdraw weapons from the wrong hands.”

Meanwhile, as the international community observed World Refugee Day, Saturday, UNHCR warned displacement and refugee problem has reached unprecedented levels.

“We have reached a moment of truth,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said in statement.

Guterres revealed “Around the world, almost 60 million have been displaced by conflict and persecution. Nearly 20 million of them are refugees, and more than half are children. Their numbers are growing and accelerating, every single day, on every continent.”

He adds “world stability is falling apart leaving a wake of displacement on an unprecedented scale. Global powers have become either passive observers or distant players in the conflicts driving so many innocent civilians from their homes.”

Burundi, Somalia, South Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR) and DRC are some of the main countries contributing to the high numbers of refugees on the African continent.