Burundi is a landlocked country in Central Africa, bordering Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country gained its independence from Belgium in 1962. Gitega is the political capital of the state. Burundi covers an area of 27,830 square kilometers. In 2022, the country had an estimated population of about 12,7 million people. The Central African nation is one of the least developed countries in the world.
The humanitarian situation
The overall humanitarian situation in Burundi remains tense and serious human rights violations continue. Burundians are facing a humanitarian crisis characterized by food insecurity, violence, natural hazards and economic decline. The people of Burundi experience a triple burden: high climate risk, widespread poverty and conflict. Even though the worst of the violence has subsided in 2023, the security situation remains precarious, with an unstable political situation and ongoing displacement outside the country.
More than 400,000 men, women and children fled Burundi in the years following the deadly clashes around the 2015 presidential election. Since 2017, at least 207,000 Burundian refugees have returned to their home country. In 2022, some 323,000 Burundians are still refugees in neighboring countries, most of them were forced to flee after the contested elections and violence in 2015. Burundian refugees are mainly hosted in Tanzania (167,000), Rwanda (49,000), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (43,000), Uganda (40,000), and Kenya (24,000). According to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the Burundi refugee situation rated among the most neglected displacement crises in 2021.
Most of the Burundian refugees depend entirely on international assistance to cover their basic needs. At the same time, Burundi has around 84,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), mainly due to natural disasters. The country hosts over 85,000 refugees and asylum seekers, predominantly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Burundian government generally cooperates with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, returning refugees or asylum seekers.
Food insecurity persists in the country with alarming levels of malnutrition and hunger. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 1.2 million people are food insecure. According to the 2022 Global Hunger Index (GHI), hunger in Burundi has reached alarming levels.
In 2022, 1.8 million people were in need of humanitarian aid , among them some 946,000 children. The United Nations estimates about 1.5 million people will require humanitarian assistance in 2023, a 17 percent decrease compared to the previous year.
The security situation
The internationally brokered Arusha Agreement, signed in 2000, and subsequent cease-fire agreements with armed movements ended the 1993-2005 civil war. Burundi’s second democratic elections were held in 2005, resulting in the election of Pierre Nkurunziza as president. He was reelected in 2010. In 2015 political unrest in Burundi took a fatal turn after President Nkurunziza announced plans to seek a third term.
After a controversial court decision allowed Nkurunziza to circumvent a term limit in 2015 and be re-elected, mass protests and a failed coup led to violent clashes. Years of violent repression followed, including mass arrests, detentions, executions, torture and intimidation. Hundreds of thousands fled to nearby countries in search of safety.
Following the death of Nkurunziza, Evariste Ndayishimiye - from Nkurunziza‘s ruling party - was elected president in 2020. The government allowed the main opposition party to campaign and participate in the 2020 presidential and parliamentary votes. The elections resulted in a peaceful transfer of power but were deeply flawed with widespread reports of human rights abuses perpetrated primarily against members of the main opposition party. Since President Ndayishimiye came to power in 2020, there have been only limited improvements in Burundi’s human rights record. According to UN experts, despite commitments and measures taken by the government, the human rights situation in Burundi has not changed in a substantial and sustainable way.
Human rights group say suspected members of opposition groups continue to disappear, many have been detained and there have been documented cases of torture. Moreover, threats and politically motivated prosecutions continue. A number of returning refugees face intimidation. There are also reports of unlawful and arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings. Violence mainly targets journalists and members of civil society organizations as well as opponents of the government and the ruling party or people perceived opposing one or the other.
Your donation for the Burundi emergency can help United Nations agencies, international humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their local partners to provide water, food, medicine, shelter and other aid to the people who need it most.
- UNHCR: Burundi situation
- World Food Programme: Burundi
Currently, there are only a few active appeals for the Burundi crisis. You may also consider making an unearmarked donation.
- Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC): Donate
- International Rescue Committee (IRC): Donate
- UNICEF: Burundi appeal
- CARE International: Donate
- UN Crisis Relief: Central Emergency Response Fund
- Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF): Donations
- Oxfam International: Donate to the Global Emergency Fund
- UN OCHA: Burundi (in French)
- ACAPS: Burundi Complex Crisis
- UNHCR Operational Data Portal (ODP): Burundi situation
- International Crisis Group: Burundi
- Human Rights Watch: World Report 2023: Burundi
- Amnesty International Report 2021/22: Burundi
- US State Department: 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Burundi