Operation: Opération: Burundi



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Key Figures

2018 year-end results
45,370 Burundian refugee returnees received return packages
18.3 litres of potable water was made available per person per day
100% of children under 12 months old who have been issued birth certificates by the authorities
85.7% of primary school-aged children were enrolled in primary education
72% of UASC for whom a best interests process was initiated or completed
2019 planning figures
100% of known SGBV survivors will receive appropriate support
95% of primary school-aged refugee children will be enrolled in education
50% of people of concern with own businesses will remain self-employed for at least 12 months
115,000 returnees will be provided with a safe and dignified return transport
12,000 refugees will receive shelter support

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Decrease in
2018 156,392
2017 195,530
2016 208,049


[["Refugees",71507],["Asylum-seekers",5670],["IDPs",31908],["Returned refugees",45536],["Stateless",974],["Others of concern",797]]
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2018 {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"budget":[25.31822673,33.021793127,34.53884162,33.81553606,33.00214314,50.92459511],"expenditure":[20.51341054,15.61407482,17.32505948,19.60250263,27.31731118,null]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[23.3993674,18.676158177,28.50049693,29.42440961,32.49367779,46.82598187],"p2":[0.36923053,0.18940178,0.92834469,0.007075,null,0.012017],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,2],"p4":[1.5496288,14.15623317,5.11,4.38405145,0.50846535,2.08659624]} {"categories":[2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019],"p1":[18.59464165,14.14254743,15.49302301,17.78705999,26.84660657,null],"p2":[0.36918882,0.13616865,0.1221779,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[1.54958007,1.33535874,1.70985857,1.81544264,0.47070461,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

Operational environment

The situation in Burundi remained complex throughout 2018. The East African Community (EAC) was not yet able to make progress with a dialogue for peace and reconciliation with the full participation of all stakeholders in Burundi. Despite the security and socio-economic challenges, the Government of Burundi maintained its open-door policy and provided protection to refugees and asylum-seekers. The National Assembly has approved the ratification of the Two conventions relative to statelessness pending the Senate approval.

Despite the improved security in some parts of the country, human rights violations continued occurring and the political environment remained volatile, with an increase in political tensions. Burundian refugees continued returning, mostly from Tanzania, against a backdrop of uncertainty and unfavourable living conditions. Simultaneously, a number of Burundians are returning to Tanzania or seeking asylum in other countries in the region.

While UNHCR is not promoting voluntary return to Burundi, support is provided to ensure that returns are based on the principles of voluntariness and informed decisions, and that returns take place in safety and dignity. However, some spontaneous returns without the assistance of UNHCR took place.

Population trends

At the end of 2018, Burundi hosted some 77,180 refugees and asylum-seekers, including more than 44,720 Congolese refugees currently residing in five camps. Furthermore, at year-end there were 45,370 Burundian refugee returnees, 31,910 IDPs, and 970 stateless persons.

Key achievements

Some 45,370 Burundian refugees repatriated on a voluntary basis in 2018, all of whom were provided with return packages.
Some 2,476 people were resettled to third countries in 2018.
Construction of the fifth camp for refugees in Nyankanda, located in Ruyigi province, with the capacity to host 11,000 people.

Unmet needs

The funding of the operation was gradual, which impacted the allocation of adequate resources on due time for UNHCR to effectively deliver protection and assistance.
Due to funding restrictions, more than 51% of households are living in poor dwellings. Education of refugee children was also impacted, with classrooms of poor quality and overcrowded classes in all of the camps.

Working environment

 Due to the forthcoming elections, the operational environment in Burundi and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2018 and 2019 is unpredictable. Contingency plans will be updated as the situations in both countries are likely to affect UNHCR’s work in Burundi in the short term.
Burundi continues its open door policy for refugees and asylum-seekers and integrates refugees into the Burundian health and school system as well as facilitates access to necessary documentation. It plays a central role in the management of sites and camps, the refugee status determination (RSD) and documentation of refugees. The Government of Burundi is still willing to allocate new sites to establish new camps for refugees. The Government has just allocated a fifth site for refugees. Advocacy for the adoption and ratification of the Conventions relating to people of concern to UNHCR will be intensified in 2018.
UNHCR will strengthen its collaboration with its governmental partners, NGOs and UN sister agencies, including WFP, UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO, UNAIDs and with regional organizations such as the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). Given the particular operational environment, the Office will maintain a close relationship with the Government and donors.

Key priorities

In 2018 UNHCR will focus on:
  • Strengthening capacity building in relation to the asylum procedure in order to maintain a favourable protection environment.
  • Participating in joint camp committees with the Government counterpart (ONPRA) to ensure respect of RSD standards and advocating for free civil documentation of people of concern.   
  • In collaboration with ONPRA, ensuring freedom of movements and access to territory for refugees and asylum-seekers
  • Implementing the child protection strategy, including strengthening the identification of children at risk through best interest assessments for each unaccompanied and separated children in the camps and strengthen family tracing mechanism.
  • Preventing and addressing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), especially to younger women and girls, including prevention of survival sex and other protection measures,
  • Prioritizing, identifying and assisting the most at-risk beneficiaries through social assessments, the provision of material assistance, specialized health care and durable solutions.
  • In the area of ​​education, improving the protection of children, young refugees and the promotion of their rights, including children with specific needs, are priorities. Nevertheless, the number of refugee children dropping out of school is increasing, especially at the secondary level, which creates several protection risks. In order to put an end to school drop-out and to improve the school attendance rate, the construction of additional classrooms and the rehabilitation of the current rooms which are in poor condition are necessary.
  •  As for health, continuing to explore the possibilities of including refugees in existing national strategies to ensure they have access to the same treatment as nationals.   
  • In terms of durable solutions, if the situation improves in the DRC, registering intentions of return and facilitating returns facilitated in safety and dignity, developing a livelihood strategy, and implementing innovative activities in the camps.  Well-functioning IGAs will be strengthened and motivated refugees supported with entrepreneurship skills. Resettlement will remain a protection tool.
  • Priority activities will target women, children and people with specific needs. The focus will be put on the following activities: return assistance, assessment of the vulnerabilities of returnees, protection monitoring, social cohesion and self-reliance through a community-based approach, advocacy for an access to basic social services including to civil and justice services, capacity building of public administration and grassroots communities on different protection issues, and coordination with other humanitarian actors and development agencies.
In 2018 UNHCR will also focus on advocacy for: updating of the nationality law in Burundi, including relevant provisions from the two statelessness conventions; joining the global campaign against statelessness and the domestication of actions set out in the 2014-2024 Global Action Plan; and the population at risk of statelessness for the recognition of the residence permit in their possession in the various civil status documents, and finally, efforts to find lasting solutions for the population at risk of statelessness in Burundi.
In addition, UNHCR will strengthen its role in humanitarian coordination aiming preventive measures to internal displacement and finding durable solutions as well as play a central role in the advocacy for effective access of IDPs to their reception area without discrimination to basic social services, administrative documentation and self-reliance opportunities.
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