“Health and shelter for Burundian refugees in Tanzania are poised to get worse in already overstretched camps,” said a joint statement by Oxfam, Help Age International, Plan International, Save the Children, International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the Danish Refugee Council.

Burundian refugees
Burundian refugees
Reports of escalating political instability in Burundi have prompted fears of a new exodus of refugees into neighbouring countries, which could stretch the camps in western Tanzania to breaking point, said the statement.
The statement said Nyarugusu in Tanzania’s western region of Kigoma, where Burundians began arriving in April 2015, has now become the world’s third largest refugee camp.

More refugees are arriving in their hundreds every day, according to the statement.

“Many people are still living in overcrowded mass shelters months after their arrival, where wet floors and cramped conditions mean that the risk of respiratory infections and waterborne diseases are high,” said the statement.

Rains in the region have raised fears of diseases, the agencies say.

“Rains and damaged toilets bring the threat of disease — a huge risk given that people are living in such close quarters, and conditions for the frail and chronically ill are likely to get worse,” said Amleset Tewodros, Tanzania Country Director for Help Age International.

The agencies also point out a current 64 percent gap in funding for their work.

The statement said if the arrival numbers spike in the coming weeks and the current lack of funding continues, the crisis will get worse.

“More funds, released faster, are desperately needed so that agencies can prevent disease outbreaks and give people, especially children, a basic level of support including key protection services,” said Steve Thorne, Save the Children’s Tanzania Country Director.

To ease the overcrowding, the Tanzanian government in early October started relocating thousands of Burundians from Nyarugusu to Nduta, another camp now home to more than 22,000.

While Nduta could house up to 50,000 people, a sharp increase in numbers would strain resources such as health services, tents, water supplies and toilets. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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