In just the last 6 weeks over 2300 children as young as 6 years of age have separated from their families in Burundi and have made long journeys by foot, traveling for several days to escape the violence in the region into neighboring Rwanda.
According to the United Nations an estimated 60% of those fleeing Burundi to Rwanda are children. This journey taken by vehicle is about a 3 ½ hour drive, these unaccompanied children are walking.
While young children travel alone in hopes of finding safety, their parents are choosing to stay behind to protect their homes from looting and destruction in Burundi’s worst crisis since its civil war in 2005 that resulted in the deaths of 300,000 people.
According to the UN refugee agency, as of June 5 roughly 96,000 people had fled Burundi and made their way to Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Uganda.
Refugee camps in both Rwanda and Tanzania are already overcrowded and with the announced delay in Burundi’s planned local and parliamentary elections on Wednesday, organizations like Save the Children fear more would flee the east African country as violence continues to escalate.
On Tuesday, running water was introduced in Rwanda’s Mahama refugee camp, which hosts an estimated 24,000 Burundi refugees. In neighboring Tanzania, the demand for prenatal services has increased sixfold leaving a greater demand for medical services. While emergency funding through the United Nations was released on Monday to both Rwanda and Tanzania organizations will need more funds and supplies to meet the needs of all the refugees flooding into the region.