Appeal: Tanzania Burundian Refugee Crisis

June 10, 2015

Appeal #642-R
Appeal amount: $1,765,430


Since April 2015, Burundians have been fleeing their country following election violence and a failed coup that has led to the deterioration of safety and security. Refugees report the main reasons for flight as harassment, threats from the Imbonerakure (pro-government youth paramilitary), arbitrary arrests and an assumption that the political situation in the country will deteriorate. Refugees continue to cross into neighboring countries at a high rate.

This has led to significant displacement towards surrounding countries, including Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. The largest influx of refugees are arriving in Tanzania. UNHCR reports that more than 50,000 Burundian refugees are present in western Tanzania, and 49,982 of them are currently in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp with more arriving. Nyarugusu is an old refugee camp for Congolese refugees with a capacity of 50,000 people, and with the arrival of the new Burundian refugees, the living conditions have become extremely dire.

The Nyarugusu Refugee Camp has become extremely congested, putting a strain on existing facilities. The water and sanitation situation is abysmal, with limited water service points and inadequate sanitation facilities. Further, due to the shortage of shelter and concerns over protection, for the most part only women and children are sleeping in enclosed spaces with men sleeping outdoors. This situation is resulting in growing tensions between the newly-arriving Burundian refugees and the Congolese refugees, some of whom have been living in Nyarugusu Camp for 20 years. Tanzania’s government and UNHCR are currently selecting a nearby location where a new refugee camp can be built for the newly-arrived Burundian refugees.


CWS participated as part of an ACT Alliance assessment team that surveyed needs within the last 30 days, and has since provided services of a water, sanitation and hygiene – or WASH – engineer, an emergency response manager and assistance from the Africa Regional Representative.

CWS and other ACT Alliance Tanzania Forum members, including key partner Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service, have been meeting with UNHCR and Government of Tanzania officials, participating in coordination meetings in both Dar es Salaam and Nyarugusu Refugee Camp. UNHCR and Tanzania’s government have requested that CWS and the ACT Alliance participate in the provision of WASH, protection, shelter and non-food item services. Our response, if fully funded, will seek to serve approximately 50,900 individuals over the one year of the project.

CWS will support the ACT Alliance effort to provide short-term emergency water via tanker truck assistance, while planning for a more permanent solution in consultation with responding agencies.

CWS will construct new latrines and washing areas in the camps and further repair and expand the temporary sanitation facilities currently in use. CWS will also provide for regular waste water removal and solid waste disposal mechanisms to maintain basic levels of sanitation and hygiene and to avoid worsening of health conditions and prevent the outbreak of water borne diseases in the camp. Waste water drainage systems and channels will be constructed along waste prone areas and garbage pits and litre tanks will be installed.

A shortage of basic bathing and cleaning infrastructure constitutes another serious concern and weakness in the current system. CWS will be providing Sphere standard washing and bathing facilities to address the physical components of the hygiene threat. This will be complimented with hygiene education programs provided on a regular basis that target both arriving and existing refugees on safe hygiene practices through organized community groups to train and monitor these practices throughout the camp. The implementation team will particularly target and mobilize women and camp leaders sensitizing them in healthy hygiene practices to ensure community compliance and safety both in the camp and the host community. The education, capacity building and monitoring programs will be extended to the host community surrounding the camp.

CWS will provide vulnerable households with shelter kits and family tents.

CWS will provide safe spaces for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and also waiting spaces (tents) for expectant mothers.

To prevent gender based violence from threatening the protection of women and girls, women’s centers need to be established for information sharing and capacity building to enhance their roles in decision-making and for their effective involvement in community life. The protection of women needs to be strengthened and their active participation and visibility in decision making promoted.

Though it is not yet considered a dominant trend, there are increasing reports from refugees of being targeted because of their ethnic background rather than political affiliation. This trend needs to be carefully monitored not only within the refugee locations, but also between refugees and their host communities.

Interventions to strengthen family tracing and reunification, enhancing child protection services and setting up prevention and response mechanisms to SGBV are necessary.

Psychosocial and trauma counselling will also be required in addition to ensuring adequate health services are in place for survivors of violence. The elderly and persons with specific needs will require additional services to ensure their protection needs are met.

Tensions between the newly-arriving Burundian refugees and the Congolese refugees is creating additional protection concerns. Thus it is essential for CWS to ensure that each community is able to remain connected through community discussions and peacebuilding activities, all the while positively interacting with other communities in the camp. Engaging refugees on the best interaction methods and peaceful dialogue, and identifying and supporting group leadership structures will be crucial for keeping the peace within and around Nyarugusu Refugee camp.

Non-food assistance
The refugee families transiting through Kagunga, the main entry point for the bulk of the refugees from Burundi (and the location of the cholera outbreak), arrived in Nyarugusu Camp with limited possessions. Lack of hygiene materials, blankets, clothing, cooking equipment, water containers to mention several, reflects the high level of NFI needs of the new influx.

CWS will provide vulnerable households with household materials, sanitary and hygiene goods such as dignity kits for women and girls, mattresses, kitchen sets, jerry cans, buckets and soap to prevent further deterioration of health and hygiene standards in the camp and to avoid exposure.

Budget (in US dollars)

WASH components: $731,354
Shelter: $145,633
Protection: $135,311
Non-food items: $395,515
Indirect costs: $357,617

TOTAL : $1,765,430

Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts may be sent to your denomination or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515 (designate 642-R, Tanzania Burundian Refugee Crisis). Donations to our emergency response efforts around the globe may also be made online.

CWS is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.