Now more than a year since Burundi’s current crisis began, more than 160,000 men, women and children remain in refugee camps in Tanzania and are unable to return home. The situation inside Burundi continues to worsen. A low intensity urban conflict is spreading progressively from Bujumbura to other provinces, resulting in targeted assassinations, torture, harassments and abuses. Coupled with an economic collapse brought on by the conflict, this makes it virtually impossible for displaced Burundians to return home safely.
Hundreds of refugees from Burundi are still entering in Tanzania every day while 140,448 Burundian refugees are currently living in Nyarugusu, Nduta and Mtendeli camps in Kigoma region. As many informants from UNHCR, INGOs and refugee leaders suggest, a quick solution to the current political crisis in Burundi and the short-term repatriation of refugees are unlikely. The current refugee situation is developing into a protracted crisis that will plausibly last for several years.
The likely scenario of an extended presence in Tanzania is changing and increasing the needs of the refugees. Basic requirements need to be provided ensuring a comprehensive long term self-reliance strategy. Given the likelihood that the refugee crisis is becoming protracted, this must be done in ways that also promote social cohesion among refugees and their Tanzanian neighbours, as well as recently arrived Burundians and long-staying refugees who had fled other regional conflicts. Furthermore, due to the constantly worsening situation in Burundi, a prompt life-saving response for the new arrivals needs to be included in the emergency response.