11 March 2016

East Africa: UK Pledges More Support to Burundian Refugees

The United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DfID) has promised to continue supporting Burundian refugees in Rwanda.

The pledge was made by the DfID Head of Mission, Laure Beaufils, on Wednesday, during a joint visit to the refugees by representatives of different international organisations to Mahama Refugee Camp.

The DfID boss was together with country representatives of UNHCR and World Food Programme (WFP) as they joined the refugees for the International Women's Day celebrations at their camp based in Kirehe District.

"I was impressed by the massive progress that has taken place since I last visited six months ago, thanks to the generosity of donors and the tireless work of UN agencies and their partners. I am proud that the UK has been providing support to Mahama Camp and the Burundian refugees and I hope the donor community will continue to be generous in 2016 so that all the great work I've seen here today can continue," Beaufils said.

During the visit, the delegation toured the camp and visited different schemes including the camp market, a women social arts and crafts group, grinding mill and health facility, among others.

The delegation interacted with refugees and heard their problems, including the lack of firewood, medication, among others.

"We weave baskets and other handicrafts, through this, we earn some money for basic needs. However, we still lack capacity to buy materials that we use to weave," Dieudonnera Akimana, the head of the women refugees, told the visitors.

For 2016, according to available estimates, the relief needed to cater for the over 70,000 Burundian refugees in Rwanda is estimated to cost $94.5 million and, according to UNHCR, they have only received $4.8 million, which represents 5 per cent.

However, Saber Azam, the UNHCR country representative, believes that the gap will be bridged.

"On behalf of all UN agencies and NGOs in the refugee response, I hope that the generosity of donors we saw in 2015 will be matched in 2016, so that we can continue to protect Burundian refugees in Rwanda and provide them with the life-saving assistance they need", he said.

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