ShelterBox is working with other aid agencies to create two new refugee camps in Tanzania, as the latest round of political violence in neighbouring Burundi causes thousands to leave their home and their country.
Since April, the African country of Burundi has suffered some of the worst violence since the end of the 12-year civil war in 2005. The unrest escalated with protests against the third-term bid of the country’s president Pierre Nkurunziza and has continued since his re-election in July.
The fighting, which has led to the death’s of more than 200 people so far, has forced more than 210,000 people to flee the country. Half of these people have crossed the border into neighbouring Tanzania.
Tanzania is already home to Nyarugusu, one of the largest refugees camps in the world, and the influx of refugees has pushed the camp well past capacity. Therefore, ShelterBox is working in partnership with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), along with a range other organisations to create two new camps in the region.
These sites will create emergency shelter for the 30,000 people who are currently living in tightly packed, flood-prone areas of the existing Nyarugusu camp. They will also have space to accommodate at least a further 20,000 people escaping conflict and turmoil in Burundi.
ShelterBox, in partnership with IOM, will initially be providing UN specification tents to accommodate around 1,000 of the most vulnerable families. Additional tents are being provided by Medecins Sans Frontieres and the UNHCR, the UN agency for refugees.
A Response Team, made up of Amber Cottrell-Jury (NZ) and Steve Crabtree (UK) recently travelled to Tanzania to oversee the arrival of the first 300 tents, which are currently in the process of being put up, while a further team are due to arrive this weekend with the remaining 700 tents. They will also be assessing whether there is a need for additional support.
Amber said: ‘We first sent a team to Tanzania to assess the need for shelter back in June, following the first influx of refugees. There was a clear need for additional shelter, so we are incredibly happy to help support the creation of these new camps.
‘There is no end in sight to the political unrest that has forced people to cross the border into Tanzania, but we want to prevent people from sleeping in over-crowded, mass shelters and are working to ensuring that families can stay together in their own space.’
While Steve and Amber were in Tanzania, they carried out train-the-trainer sessions with local staff. This means that when all 1,000 tents have arrived in the country, people will be able to pass on the skills needed to pitch the tents quickly and efficiently.