Nyarugusu refugee camp, Tanzania – The risk of sexual violence among Burundian women and girls in Tanzania’s Nyarugusu refugee camp is being driven up by the scarcity of firewood used for cooking, adding to an already high level of sexual gender-based violence in the camp, according to the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
According to the IRC, on average, two to three women report being raped each week in incidents relating to collecting firewood up to 15 kilometres outside the camp. Staff working in the camp say that due to the stigma associated with sexual violence, they believe the number of cases that go unreported is much higher.
When Burundians began seeking refuge in Tanzania at the outset of political violence last year, Nyarugusu became one of the largest refugee camps in the world.
According to the latest UNHCR data, there are currently some 137,000 people in Nyarugusu, more than 73,000 of whom are Burundian and the rest from the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are a further 66,000 Burundians in Nduta and Mtendeli refugee camps.
Apart from the increased risk of sexual attacks, the lack of alternative sources of fuel and cooking stoves has also meant that the surrounding area has been exhausted of resources, which has put a strain on both the camp’s population and the environment.
The UNHCR said in a statement to Al Jazeera that a plan has been developed to “introduce an alternative source of cooking fuel” but “increased funding is critical to initiate the roll-out of this strategy and to scale up activities across all three refugee camps”.