CWS calls for support in Tanzania refugee crisis

June 11, 2015

Families displaced by violence face water, food, shelter and safety challenges

NEW YORK – International humanitarian assistance agency Church World Service calls on the international community to provide immediate support to an estimated 50,000 Burundi men, women and children who have fled violence and are seeking shelter, primarily in Tanzania.

“Tanzania was already home to nearly 50,000 Congolese refugees, and the added influx of those seeking shelter from violence in Burundi is straining already meager support,” says Erol Kekic, director of the CWS Immigration and Refugee Program.

Conflict over the ruling government and a failed coup have brought significant violence, arbitrary arrest and harassment from supporters of President Pierre Nkurunziza. The United Nations reports Burundians are fleeing to Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, with the heaviest influx of refugees into Tanzania.

“As we assessed things at the Nyarugusu Refugee Camp it became clear that access to adequate clean water was a key need to support the growing population of the camp,” CWS Africa Regional Representative Robert Warwick said. “That’s why we’re making water, sanitation and hygiene a key component of our response. We felt this was particularly important given concerns about potential cholera outbreaks.”

“Adding nearly 50,000 additional people to the services provided at Nyarugusu Refugee Camp mean there’s an incredible need for emergency food, water, shelter and other help,” says Donna Derr, CWS director of development and humanitarian assistance. “Now is a critical time to bring added help to bear, in order to support those in need and keep things as peaceful as possible.”

CWS, as part of the global ACT Alliance network, has issued a U.S. $1.7 million appeal to help provide emergency food, water, shelter and other items critical to daily life. There is also an investment in protecting the most vulnerable among refugees from further harm.

CWS expects to work in the crisis for at least one year, contributing to the development of a new camp that can accommodate the population surge.

Founded in 1946, CWS is an international relief and development agency that provides help in emergencies, sustainable development assistance, support to refugees and advocacy for public policies that end hunger, poverty and vulnerability. CWS has worked in Africa since 1964.

ACT Alliance is a coalition of more than 140 churches and affiliated organizations working together in more than 140 countries to create positive and sustainable change in the lives of poor and marginalized people regardless of their religion, politics, gender, sexual orientation, race or nationality in keeping with the highest international codes and standards.