Congolese refugees in Burundi rise to 25,000; relocation starts this weekend
CIBITOKE, Burundi, June 18 (UNHCR) - As the Congolese refugee influx continues in Burundi, the UN refugee agency plans to move the first group out of an estimated 25,000 new arrivals into camps further inland starting this weekend.
The Burundian authorities estimate that 25,000 Congolese refugees have arrived in western Burundi since June 9 due to the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Hundreds of new refugees are still arriving daily in Cibitoke, while no recent arrivals have been reported further south at Gatumba.
Some 1,600 refugees are staying in 25 hangars which have been set up at Rugombo. At Karurama, 2 km from Cibitoke, 3,000 refugees are living in hangars built on land provided by the Burundian authorities who have now allowed UNHCR to extend this campsite to shelter 3,000 more refugees.
One-week food rations from the UN World Food Programme were distributed at the refugee sites on Wednesday, and mobile clinics are already up and running to provide health care.
UNHCR has sent a senior emergency officer to the Burundian capital, Bujumbura, and will be deploying more emergency staff to the country in the coming days. In addition to providing emergency assistance to the refugees, the agency plans to move them away from sites close to the insecure border.
The first relocation convoy is set to start on Saturday from Rugombo to Songore transit camp further inland. The transit centre was previously used to receive Burundian returnees, and can hold some 800 people.
The agency also plans to transfer some 2,000 refugees to Gasorwe camp, which already hosts 8,000 Congolese refugees who fled their country in previous years.
At the same time, UNHCR is negotiating with the Burundian government for more land to shelter the Congolese refugees.