I’m not long returned from a trip to eastern DR Congo where I was visiting Children in Crisis’ work with young Burundian refugees.
These teenagers, many of whom are unaccompanied minors – separated from their parents and siblings – have fled an unfolding and worsening crisis in their country.
It’s a lesser known crisis, one that hasn’t hit the headlines. Indeed, Burundi is a lesser known country that few have heard of, but what’s abundantly clear to me, from visiting the refugee camp and spending time with the young Burundian refugees with whom we’re working, is that this unfolding humanitarian crisis is no less important.
Since the crisis in Burundi first erupted two years ago, ignited by the unconstitutional and deeply divisive decision by incumbent President Nkurunziza to run for a third term, Burundi has been thrust into political and economic turmoil. Government crackdowns against opposition movements, suppression of the media, an increase in violence and extrajudicial arrests – have resulted in upwards of 260,000 refugees (the majority women and children) having fled to neighbouring Rwanda, Tanzania, DR Congo and Uganda.
Those that have fled to eastern DR Congo, some 16,000 of them, are living in a refugee camp on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.