Kigali — THE United Nations has appealed to the international community to support over 420 000 Burundian refugees in dire need of humanitarian assistance in neighbouring countries. The refugees are overwhelming Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda,Tanzania and Uganda. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urgently requires US$429 million (R5,8 billion) appeal for humanitarian aid to Burundian refugees but only 12 percent of the funding has been recived. Underfunding has hampered reception facilities and limited the available shelter space and the quality of protection provided by host countries. "Increasing funding for refugee assistance efforts is vital," said UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic. Refugees continue living overcrowded camps where they face insecurity,shortages of clean water and food as well as health and social services. Many areas hosting refugees are at risk of communicable diseases such as malaria and acute watery diarrhea. The World Food Programme has reduced monthly food rations to 60 percent in Tanzania, which is home to the majority of Burundian refugees. In Rwanda, one third of the estimated 88 000 refugees still live under plastic sheeting and are exposed to heavy rains or thunderstorms. UNHCR appealed to governments to leave their borders open to asylum-seekers in Burundi and to halt forced repatriations. Burundi is beset by conflict after President Pierre Nkurunziza stayed on in power despite the lapse of his mandate.
Burundi: Global Support Sought for Distressed Burundi Refugees
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