WFP presses panic button over Burundi refugee crisis

Friday June 3 2016

By Kevin J Kelley


The World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Wednesday that it is struggling to feed more than a quarter-million Burundi refugees who have fled to Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo.

The UN agency said it requires $57 million during the next six months to feed the 265,000 Burundians currently living in refugee camps as well as 1,000 more who arrive each week in neighbouring countries. Needs are particularly acute in Rwanda and Uganda, the World Food Programme (WFP) noted.

WFP said it expects Tanzania to be hosting 170,000 Burundi refugees by the end of the year compared to 140,000 at present. The number of Burundians fleeing to Rwanda is projected to rise to 100,000 from a current total of 78,000. And WFP anticipates a total of 60,000 Burundi refugees will have reached Uganda and DRC at the end of 2016.

Hunger is spreading inside Burundi as well, the UN reported.
Nearly half of Burundi’s 10 million people are considered “food insecure,” WFP said. “Of these,” the agency added, “about 590,000 are severely food insecure and require urgent emergency food assistance.”

“The socio-political crisis has aggravated an already fragile food security, nutrition and socio-economic context in Burundi,” WFP said.

The origin
The refugee crisis and the shortage of food inside Burundi are due mainly to the political instability and attendant violence that followed President Pierre Nkurunziza’s election to a third term last July. Opposition groups contend that Mr Nkurunziza violated a peace agreement by seeking to extend his presidential tenure. Increased poverty levels and reduced agricultural output have been exacerbated in Burundi by flooding associated with the El Nino.