Samaritan's Purse Responds to Burundi Refugee Crisis

July 31, 2015 • Rwanda
Nakivale Burundi crisis; Burundians fill the courtyard outside the Samaritan’s Purse office in Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Southwest Uganda. Some stand in lines waiting for their turn to register as a refugee with the Office of the Prime Minister while others, many of them children, mill around. There’s a constant hum of muted conversations, children playing, and babies crying. “Some days we have to step around people to get out of our office,” says Augustine, Samaritan’s Purse Ministry Staff. Mothers wrap bright colored African materials around their shoulders to keep warm while rain drizzles down. They have nothing to do now but wait. The people have come from Burundi to Uganda seeking refuge from the conflict in their home country. A recent failed coup attempt has left Burundi in conflict. There is tension due to anger over the current president wanting to remain in power longer than the prescribed number of terms. There’s an even deeper, longer-running ethnic tension between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes. The tensions and violence in the past month has led many Burundians to flee. “I left Burundi because of fear from seeing how people were being killed,” says Maria. She and her four children (age 10, 7, 2, and 9 months) arrived in Nakivale on May 27th after a 15-day journey from their village in Burundi. They’d first tried to find refuge in Rwanda but were not accepted. “We heard that in Uganda people were being received,” says Maria, “so we decided to continue.” Depending on the route they took, they may have traveled 600km (roughly 370 miles) or more. In order to get into Uganda, Maria explains, they had to cross a river with water that came up to her waist. The refugees only bring what they can easily carry. In Maria’s case, she came carrying her 9-month-old baby, Clementine, on her back. Last Friday, Maria and her family received their registration card giving them entitlement to receive land and food. The Samaritan’s Purse Refug

A disaster assistance response team is on the ground to help those who've fled deadly violence in Burundi.

A disaster assistance response team from Samaritan’s Purse is working with the local church in Rwanda to provide relief in Jesus’ Name to refugees from Burundi. There are between 32,000 and 35,000 people in Mahama refugee camp, and approximately 17,000 more refugees will arrive in the next two weeks from smaller camps scattered in the surrounding areas.

Alongside the local church, Samaritan’s Purse held a ceremony with the community adjacent Mahama refugee camp to share the Gospel and announce a plan to construct a church in the area. The first service was held at the church on Sunday, and dozens of people gave their lives to Christ. Over the weekend, we also worked with the local church to distribute 504 bars of soap to Burundian refugees living in the community outside the refugee camp.

Burundi Refugee Crisis

This barren land outside Mahama Refugee Camp will be used by local Christians to build a church and distribute items to refugees. One item the refugees need is firewood, as this land doesn’t have any trees for use. Samaritan’s Purse is currently supporting the needs of the local church.

During April and May, political conflict in Burundi erupted into deadly violence causing tens of thousands of residents to flee to neighboring countries, including Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As instability in Burundi continues, the number of refugees in the region has now climbed to more than 175,000 people. Our team is prepared to ease the suffering of refugees by meeting medical, shelter, and water/sanitation needs.

The crisis in Burundi began in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term in office, despite questions about its constitutionality. In the aftermath, there has been a coup attempt, demonstrators have been killed, and an opposition leader was assassinated. The security situation remains unstable.

Burundi Refugees

Burundian children are fetching water from a pond formed by the leakage of a pipeline in a settlement area in Uganda.

Our field staff in Uganda has been providing food assistance to Burundian refugees in the southwestern part of that country since May. Staff members are now planning to expand that assistance to cover water, sanitation, and hygiene needs as well.

Please pray for our team members as they begin to serve refugees in Rwanda. Pray for opportunities to share the eternal hope of Christ with those who are now suffering and displaced.

Last updated: August 25, 2015

Thirty tons of emergency relief from Samaritan's Purse has arrived in the Bahamas.
International Emergency Relief When natural disasters strike or armed conflict causes people to flee, Samaritan's Purse responds quickly to bring relief to those in urgent need. We can provide food, clean water, and shelter, among other necessities. One way we help in disaster situations is by handing out “family survival kits” that include warm blankets, buckets with water filters, cooking utensils, soap, and other daily essentials. For just $45, we can provide a lifeline to a family that has lost everything, to help them get back on their feet.

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Suggested Gift: $45