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Over 300,000 Burundian refugees flee to neighbouring countries

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said the number of people fleeing to neighboring countries since the political violence broke out in April last year in Burundi has topped 300,000.

In a statement issued here Friday, UNHCR said the refugees- principally from Muyinga, Makamba, Cankuzo, Kirundo and Ruyigi provinces have fled to Tanzania, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda and Zambia in search of asylum or international protection.

The refugees are fleeing violence, threats, extra judicial killing, abduction, torture and persecution in the central African country, according to the refugee agency.

Tanzania currently hosts 163,084 Burundian refugees, the largest number in the region;

Uganda hosts 41,938 Burundian refugees;

Rwanda is home to more than 81,000 Burundian refugees;

DRC hosts more than 21,000 refugees

while Zambia has 1,700 Burundian refugees and asylum seekers.

"Although departure numbers have generally not been as high as in 2015, there has been a constant flow this year, including more than 20,000 in July and August," said UNHCR.

UNHCR expects the number of arrivals to continue to rise in the remaining months of this year, while noting that aid agencies will struggle to continue providing adequate shelter, protection and life-saving services.

The agency noted that the reception capacities of the host countries such as Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC, are severely overstretched and conditions remain dire for many refugees, most of whom are women and children.

"These worrying trends will persist as long as a solution to the political crisis remains elusive, with far-reaching humanitarian consequences in Burundi and the region," it said.

"To ensure that the refugees receive the assistance and protection they need, UNHCR calls on the international community to maintain efforts for peace and step up support for the countries of asylum, particularly in areas such as shelter, basic services, education, health and livelihoods."

The violence broke out in Bujumbura following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to seek for a controversial third term in office.


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