The refugee children of the Burundi crisis - Al Jazeera English

The refugee children of the Burundi crisis

The crisis in Burundi as seen through the eyes of its young refugees.

Azad Essa | | Human Rights, Politics, Refugees, Burundi, Tanzania

Kigoma, Tanzania - The political crisis in Burundi continues unabated and with each passing day, as President Pierre Nkurunziza expresses an unwillingness to step down, Burundi descends deeper into chaos, and inches closer to another civil war.

The people of this small East African country, have been forced to revisit the wounds of the long civil war that barely ended a decade earlier.

Due to ongoing intimidation, mob violence, and civil unrest, almost 150,000 people, mostly women and children, have been forced to grab their modest belongings and leave the country. Some on foot, others on bicycles, refugees carried bedding, clothes and pots tucked into white straw bags across the border into Rwanda, the DR Congo, and Tanzania.

For many, this is the third or fourth time they have fled Burundi. When the political unrest started in Bujumbura, and moved to the areas outside the city, new militia groups emerged, asking the farmers to take sides. And the farmers knew it was once more time to leave.

By early July, Tanzania had the highest number of Burundian refugees. The UNHCR says some 69,000 have made their way through the various border crossings - steep mountain passes, the shore of the Kagunga peninsula and others - before being transferred to the Nyarugusu camp near the town of Kasulu.

The psychological and physical strain on refugees, especially children, is almost impossible to quantify.

In Tanzania, 60 percent of the Burundian refugees are younger than 17.

Without proper care, children are at risk of acute malnutrition and developmental problems. Without the necessary assistance, they face a life without an education and a stunted future.

Content on this website is for general information purposes only. Your comments are provided by your own free will and you take sole responsibility for any direct or indirect liability. You hereby provide us with an irrevocable, unlimited, and global license for no consideration to use, reuse, delete or publish comments, in accordance with Community Rules & Guidelines and Terms and Conditions.

MORE FROM AL JAZEERA
Nepal: The Maoist dream

Nepal: The Maoist dream

Nepal's bloody civil war ended in 2006 when a Comprehensive Peace Accord was signed between the Maoist rebels and the Nepali state in Kathmandu. Many people have disappeared or got killed during the war. Al Jazeera tells this story through the eyes of the Nepali people.

War & Conflict, Nepal, Asia

MUST-SEE PROGRAMMES