Burundi/Rwanda/Tanzania/Zaire (March 1994)
by Humanitarian Practice Network March 1994

Following the attempted coup d’état of October 1993 in Burundi and the ensuing inter-ethnic violence, approximately 800,000 Burundians crossed Rwanda (375,000); Tanzania (325,000) and Zaire (58,000).

An estimated 250,000 remained in Burundi as internally displaced. The international community’s response was insufficient and delayed in each case. The RNIS for February 94 judged the situation for the refugees and displaced in the region to be ‘out of control’.

In Rwanda, the refugee influx of approximately 375,000 into the south of the country during October and November followed heavy fighting and large population displacements earlier in the year between the government forces and the Patriotic Front of Rwanda.

Overcrowding in the 21 camps, poor sanitation, lack of water and inadequate food rations resulted in high excess mortality – MSF estimates more than 10,000 deaths. As a result of the more stable situation in Burundi, the start of the planting season and the poor conditions in the camps in Rwanda some of the refugees have begun returning.

In Tanzania, the Burundian refugees are scattered amongst 45 sites many of which are inaccessible. The absence of a proper registration and distribution system and inadequate food supplies are producing very high rates of malnutrition and mortality in some of the sites.

In Zaire, the refugees are spread between 17 sites in Eastern Zaire. Overcrowding, lack of food and epidemics of cholera and dysentery are resulting in high rates of mortality.

Zaire also hosts some 300,000 Angolan refugees in Shaba and Lower Zaire, and 125,000 Sudanese refugees in Upper Zaire. In Shaba region, ethnic violence has resulted in the displacement of approximately 300,000 people, half of which remain in transit camps/locations. Some food distributions have been undertaken by NGOs but delays in UN needs assessments, political difficulties the high costs of transport and inadequate funding from donors have severely delayed the provision of a general ration by WFP. Mortality rates are high.