The United Nations Refugee Agency is appealing for funds to assist Burundian refugees living in the Lusenda camp, in the South Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
About 22,720 Burundians have over the last year fled to neighbouring DRC, following a political crisis in that country.
“We need about 8 million US dollars to assist the refugees, but we have only received 14 percent of the funding and we think that we will not receive enough money” said the UNHCR’s head in Bukavu, Louame Cyr Modeste.
Modeste said the initial funds available to the UNHCR was to accommodate 30,000 refugees across eastern Congo but now “we have 23,000 refugees that need our assistance” adding that “currently we are struggling to assist the 17,000 refugees in the Lusenda camp who require specific needs such as education, hygiene, water and sanitation”.
The only way out for the UNHCR’s head is to “continue to appeal to other humanitarian actors to assist us with more funding”.
Over the past decades, persistent conflict has degraded health and educational infrastructure in the DRC making life particularly difficult for the displaced Burundians.
“We are currently experiencing some difficulties because the UNHCR lacks the funds to take care of us. The aid that we receive every year has decreased. Many of us fled conflict in our country and we have nothing and when we arrived here, we received very little assistance. It’s really a problem. We have a lot of problems,” said Burundian refugee Charlotte Bigirimana.
Nearly 260,0000 Burundians have fled to nearby countries, and diplomats warn that thousands more could join them over the rest of the year unless a political solution is found and a descent to civil war averted.