Fleeing home once more – families flee Burundi in search of safety

تم النشر: 9 يونيو 2015 10:00 CET

Caroline Haga, Finnish Red Cross

On 24 May, Hubwimana Inosenti arrived at the refugee registration centre in Kigoma in northern Tanzania, five days after his wife and four children. Only a few hours after arrival, he began feeling very unwell.

His wife, Ndaishimiye, called for help. The first aid team from the Tanzania Red Cross Society rushed to her husband and carried him on stretchers to the medical tent. At the ward, Hubiwana Inosenti received treatment and his wife got the good news; he would be able to return to his family in the evening. The children anxiously waited for their father at the football stadium, which is where the registration centre is set up.

The family has spent more than one month on the road to Tanzania. They have joined more than 46,000 others who are fleeing pre-election violence in Burundi. At least another 36,000 have fled to Congo and Rwanda.

Ndaishimiye Inosenti says, for many weeks, they had to stay in Kagunga, on a narrow strip of land by Lake Tanganiyaka, where the ferry to Kigoma, docks. “I’ve been in Tanzania before,” she says sadly. I spent four years in the Tabira refugee camp (during the civil war in Burundi). We were only able to return home two years ago.”

Now they have had to flee their home country again. Ndaishimiye Inosenti is especially worried for her children, three boys and one girl. What she wishes is for them to get an education, but when they left Burundi, they also had to leave their school behind.

Despite their current dire situation, the family has dreams for the future. “I hope to become a farmer and grow beans and maize,” says Hubwimana Inosenti. His wife smiles beside him. “And I will help him.”

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an emergency appeal of  1 million Swiss francs to support the Tanzania Red Cross Society as it responds to this unfolding crisis. The appeal aims to assist 20,000 Burundian refugees through the provision of emergency health care, shelter, water and sanitation, and non-food items including basics such as blankets and buckets.

The Red Cross is also assisting refugees in Rwanda. Disaster relief emergency funds have been released to support staff and volunteers in registering new arrivals at different entry points, in two transit camps and in one permanent camp. They are also providing first aid, psychosocial support, non-food items, and helping separated family members contact their loved ones.

In Burundi, the Red Cross has deployed three first aid mobile response teams in the capital of Bujumbura, where teams offer first aid and evacuate the injured to hospitals.