More than 60,000 refugees from Burundi have fled to Tanzania

Since the beginning of May more than 60,000 refugees from Burundi have fled to Tanzania, fearing violence and intimidation ahead of the Burundi’s upcoming election. The majority have arrived in Kagunga peninsula, a remote village on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, where resources are scarce.

Refugees are urgently being transported by ferry to a sport stadium in Kigoma, where they will be provided with food, shelter and access to clean water and sanitation. Refugees staying in the stadium will eventually be moved to nearby camps.

Nearly 100,000 Burundians have fled to Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo since violence broke out at the end of April. UNHCR, the host governments and partners in the region are working to provide support and basic necessities to the refugees

In a makeshift hospital, 26 year old Ndairana Jackline waits patiently on her daughter. She and her family fled political violence in Burundi for safety in Tanzania.

They left everything behind, scared for their lives.

Her and her family’s journey took hours. On the way their 3 year old Telitika got sick.

More than 60,000 Burundians have sought refuge in the last month. Initially they arrive on the shores Lake Tanganyika. Then, UNHCR has been ferrying them to Kigoma, where there is shelter, medicine and clean water.

But the two ships, working round the clock, can only transport 1500 refugees per day.

Tens of thousands remain in Kagunga, a serious concern for aid agencies.

At the Kigoma stadium, doctors are providing the refugees much needed care.

The rush is on, for UNHCR and its partners to provide support for the thousands of refugees who are here and those who are expected to come.



Various of men building a shelter

Woman feeding a child inside a makeshift hospital

Baby laying on the floor

Young man looking at the baby

Ndairana cleaning her child’s nose

UNHCR officer looking onto Kagunga shore crowded with refugees

Various shots, boat carrying refugees

Refugees wearing lifejackets

Refugees on boat coming to UNHCR ferry

Refugees receiving life jackets upon entering UNHCR ferry.

Refugees going into the cargo hold of the ship

Refugee men sitting in the cargo hold of the ship

Various shots, another number of refugees on boat coming to UNHCR ferry at night

Exterior, Kigoma stadium crowded with people and makeshift hospital

Crowd of refugees

Boats at Kagunga shore at night

People lined up at Kagunga shore

Women boarding

UNHCR ferry from afar, refugees on boat heading towards it

Refugees singing on the boat

SOUNDBITE (Kirundi) Ndairana Jackline, Burundian refugee:

“Because of the political situation in Burundi, most of our people decided to flee, so we decided to flee as well.”

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr. Kahindo Maina, Senior Public Health Officer, UNHCR:

“The refugees are in an isolated villages on the shore. We cannot access it by land – literally. The only way to access it is by ship makes it a very desperate situation.”

SOUNDBITE (Kirundi) Ndairana Jackline, Burundian refugee:

“She’s doing much better, but I don’t have any more clothes for her. I have only one outfit. If it gets cold at night, she won’t have anything to keep warm.”