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UNHCR Appeals for UGX 1.5 Trillion for ‘Forgotten' Burundi Refugees :: Uganda Radionetwork
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UNHCR Appeals for UGX 1.5 Trillion for ‘Forgotten' Burundi Refugees

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The UN Refugee Agency said in a statement that the appeal, backed by 26 UNHCR partners, was necessary to assist refugees struggling to survive in neighboring countries where efforts were falling short of acceptable humanitarian standards.
Severe underfunding hinders provision of aid for Burundian refugees

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The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has expressed great concern about low levels of humanitarian funding for desperate refugees from Burundi. The agency says that Burundian refugees receive just 21 percent of the aid they need, making it the world's least funded refugee response plan.

The concern came as UNHCR launched a funding appeal for USD 391 million (1.5 trillion) to support 430,000 Burundian refugees this year.

The UN Refugee Agency said in a statement that the appeal, backed by 26 UNHCR partners, was necessary to assist refugees struggling to survive in neighboring countries where efforts were falling short of “acceptable humanitarian standards”.

More than 400,000 refugees and asylum-seekers have fled Burundi, since 2015, escaping human rights abuses, political uncertainty and the related humanitarian crisis.  Tanzania is hosting the largest number of 254,000 refugees, while 89,000 are in Rwanda. 

Another 44,000 Burundian refugees are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and some 40,000 in Uganda. Smaller refugee numbers have also fled to Kenya, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and South Africa.

But severe under-funding means Burundi's refugees are unable to live with the safety and dignity they need and deserve.

“Low levels of humanitarian funding for this crisis remain a great concern,” UNHCR said and called for the pursuit of efforts to find a “genuine and lasting resolution” to the Burundi crisis.

Catherine Wiesner, the UNHCR regional coordinator, says Underfunding affects all aspects of life, including the availability of food, shelter and education, as well as the capacity to respond to sexual and gender-based violence.

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Launching the appeal, Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said many important needs had not been met because of a shortfall in contributions.

“Food rations were cut in many of the neighbouring countries,” he said. “Women that are exposed to violence, often, in this tense context could not be provided with the necessary support … and therefore continued to suffer from sexual and gender-based violence in spite of efforts.”

He said the appeal was designed to remember “one of the most forgotten refugee crises in the world”, adding: “For the moment, the conditions are still fragile, so support to host countries continues to be a priority that I hope the world will not forget.”

Regional efforts to resolve the political crisis in the country have made no significant progress and refugee numbers are expected to increase by more than 50,000 this year.

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