Accommodation, education concerns in Burundian refugee camp

GMT 03:08 2015 Monday ,11 May

Arab Today, arab today Accommodation, education concerns in Burundian refugee camp

Burundian refugee camp
Kigali - XINHUA

Sandrine Mukankusi is living in a refugee camp with relatives and neighbors. But that isn't her main concern. Mukankusi is worried about her three children's education, who have not gone to school ever since they fled to Rwanda late March.

"There is no school here and I cannot be settled when my children are not studying," Mukankusi told Xinhua on Friday.

In addition, she is worried about the fact that she is compelled to share a tent with their grown-up children.

More than 25,000 Burundian refugees have fled to Rwanda, among them over 13,000 children.

On average 100 Burundians enter Rwanda daily, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

Medical facilities, food storage and tents have been set up. At Mahama the number stands at about 17,000 refugees, according to UNHCR.

Burundian refugees fleeing the crisis are initially received in two reception centers in Rwanda that are managed by Rwanda's Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs and the UNHCR. One is located in Bugesera, eastern Rwanda and another in Nyanza, southern Rwanda.

The refugees started to be relocated to a new refugee camp, Mahama, located in Kirehe district in southeastern Rwanda on April 22.

In Mahama camp, UNHCR has supplied tents for individual refugee families which are being constructed daily by partner American Refugee Committee (ARC) with support from the local host community.

World Vision had been constructing water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in the Mahama camp for the new arrivals.

"Before we fled, my children were in school but they are now idle in the camp I fear it could pose some negative consequences," said Mukankusi.

Support agencies appear initially a bit overwhelmed by the scale of influx as they mobilize more response effort.

UNHCR has been mobilizing critical non-food items in anticipation of additional arrivals from Burundi, including essential items such as blankets, mosquito nets, and jerry cans, the agency says.

UNHCR Rwanda's representative Saber Azam says plans are in advanced stages to address the children education concerns.

The long term plan is to integrate some of the children into local schools, he said while visiting the camp on Friday.

He added that teachers will be identified in the refugee community and outside as soon as possible to help children resume school.

"There is genuine concern among all refugees and a lot of people are still coming because calm is yet to return to Burundi," Jean Nepo Nzohabonayo, a refugee told Xinhua on Friday.

"We are worried if the children will catch up because we can already see many of them idling in the camp," he adds, pointing to children playing.

However, an aid worker said initial efforts were concentrated on providing what he called urgent needs such as hygiene kits, safe drinking water, emergency toilets, and other basic necessities.

Rwanda's ministry of disaster management and refugees affairs and UNHCR are jointly coordinating the refugee response. The coordination includes a consortium of other partners such as Plan, World Vision, UNICEF and the World Food program.

UNHCR plans to launch an emergency funding appeal for the refugee response to cover its operations and those of its partners, a recent release from the UN agency says.

Protests broke out in Burundi after President Pierre Nkurunziza formally registered his candidacy for re-election. His opponents say running for a third term violates the constitution and Arusha peace deal that ended a civil war in 2005.

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