Over 300,000 Burundians have fled to stretched neighbouring countries

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The number of people fleeing violence, threats, extrajudicial killings, abduction, torture and persecution in Burundi has passed the 300,000 mark some 18 months after the political crisis in the central African nation erupted in April last year.

These people have fled Burundi – principally from Kirundo, Makamba, Bujumbura city, Cibitoke and Rumonge provinces – in search of asylum or international protection. Although departure numbers have generally not been as high as in 2015, there has been a constant flow this year, including more than 20,000 in July and August.

We expect the number of arrivals will continue to rise in the remaining months of this year, but fear that neighbouring Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and aid agencies such as UNHCR will struggle to continue providing adequate shelter, protection and life-saving services.

The reception capacities of these host countries are severely overstretched and conditions remain dire for many refugees, most of whom are women and children.

These worrying trends will persist as long as a solution to the political crisis remains elusive, with far-reaching humanitarian consequences in Burundi and the region. To ensure that the refugees receive the assistance and protection they need, UNHCR calls on the international community to maintain efforts for peace and step up support for the countries of asylum, particularly in areas such as shelter, basic services, education, health and livelihoods.

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