A cholera outbreak in the holding camp where Burundi refugees are cleared for entry into Tanzania has claimed 31 lives. The World Health Organisation said this week that the situation appears to be improving, but the risk of transmission remains high. Aid agencies warn that far more help is needed to avert a bigger catastrophe.
The political crisis in the small east African country of Burundi, sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bitterly contested decision to run for a third term, has translated into a growing humanitarian crisis, with more than 100,000 men, women and children fleeing from what they describe as a campaign of intimidation by armed Nkurunziza supporters.
About six in 10 of the refugees are women and children, all trying to get onto buses transporting refugees to a bigger camp inland.
Many of the women clutched small charcoal-powered stoves known as jikos, while men carried transistor radios.
“The predominant emotion among them is fear and tiredness,” says Aimee Brown of Oxfam. “Many have walked for days and weeks and fear what will happen to them if they go back. The key thing they need now is water and clean water vessels to beat the threat of disease.”
Burundi experienced a 12-year civil war from 1993, which claimed around 300,000 lives.
Protracted negotiations led to the signing of a peace accord in 2005, with Nkurunziza nominated as president. Opponents accuse the former rebel leader of tightening his grip on power and indulging his appetite for amateur football instead of improving the lot of citizens. Read more
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