Burundi refugees become a priority

By April 18, 2016

Burundi (MNN) — Burundi refugees face another fear-filled week as the United Nations continues to weigh its options.

Over the weekend, UN chief Ban Ki-moon offered three suggestions for a new peacekeeping mission in Burundi:

  • Sending in a force of up to 3,000 UN police officers – this choice would offer the most protection to civilians, but would be a logistical nightmare.
  • Sending in 228 officers – these officials would act as an “early warning” system, but offer no protection to civilians.
  • Sending in a small group of 20 – 50 officers — this group would work alongside the Burundi police force and “help bring about concrete and measurable improvements in the respect for human rights and rule of law.”
(Photo courtesy FH)

(Photo courtesy FH)

Violence that’s been largely ignored by the international community has Burundi on a knife’s edge. Triggered a year ago by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s power grab, chaos has engulfed the central African nation.

“Larger numbers [of people] now are fleeing Burundi into Tanzania, Kenya and some others…Uganda, as well,” says Tent Schools International’s Dale Dieleman.

Kidnappings, torture, and sexual violence are commonplace. “Blood flows everywhere in Burundi, that’s how things are,” one Burundi refugee recently told The Guardian.

An estimated 400 people have been killed, and 250,000 have fled to neighboring countries. But, even there, Burundi refugees are not safe. According to recent reports, attackers are following their targets across borders and pursuing them into refugee camps.

Tent Schools is working with national believers to offer the hope of Christ to scared and desperate Burundi refugees.

Helping Burundi refugees in Tanzania

Tent Schools is partnering with a ministry working in a couple of refugee camps in Tanzania, Dieleman shares. At this point, they’re doing basic assistance.

The bigger issue is that “The international community is not giving as much toward even meeting those financial goals. Education, for example, is way, way, way, way down the line and is not receiving any, or very little, attention.”

As explained here, Burundi refugees are likely to carry that status long-term. This reality gives Tent Schools — with its focus on providing displaced kids with Christ-centered education — a new and urgent need to meet.

“This is a serious and likely long-term displacement,” said International Rescue Committee head, David Miliband, of the Burundi crisis.

“I think we have got to prepare for the worst, which is a multi-year crisis, with people still coming.”

(Photo courtesy Tent Schools International)

(Photo courtesy Tent Schools International)

Working alongside their partners in Tanzania, Tent Schools will help Burundi refugees “get back into a routine concerning their continuing education.”

Help Tent Schools provide education to Burundi refugees.


  • Your Name says:

    We have many families from Burundi in Chattanooga, TN.
    They maintain family and friendships with those still in Burundi.
    I asked one of the women in our church to tell me if this sounded true to her (since, hey! We have someone from Burundi right in our own church!) Here is her reply:Marylu,

    Those stories are inaccurate. Although there are people who fled to Tanzania last year when the situation was dire, there are not others who are going to Tanzania now. Even those who fled Tanzania were encouraged to return back and some have returned.
    My sisters, back home keep me up to date with everything that is happening in Burundi. I spoke to them even today and nothing of a kind was mentioned.

    “It is an interesting article, however. Most of the Burundian population is Christian and if anything, they pray a lot during hard times and are able to maintain their faiths in God. Education is very important; however, by looking at the background on the picture with the little boy, a Christian education is not a priority at the moment. In short, the story is inaccurate.”

    So I only have a few organizations that I trust to pass information from to our church. I’m hoping that the majority of what is published is correct.

  • Julius says:

    God will have mercy on the refugees.May God open the eyes of political leaders that Jesus is coming back and they will one day pay for the suffering they have caused.As the refugees cry to God may God answer.In Jesus name.

  • In response to the comment from Tennessee, Tent Schools International (TSI) replies…

    Thank you brothers and sisters for your views. Our position is as follows.

    As of April 20, 2016, the ACT Alliance monitoring and engaged in the Burundi crisis reports a continued volatile situation resulting in an ongoing refugee movement into neighboring countries, including Tanzania. A report released this week by ACT states…

    “The (Burundi) refugee exodus continues into neighboring countries at a rate of 1,000 arrivals per day. UNHCR estimates that 245,617 refugees have left their country since April 1 st 2015, with 129,748 in Tanzania, 73 867 in Rwanda, 21, 156 in Uganda and 20,846 in DRC. The effects of prolonged instability continue to have a significant toll on Burundians who have remained in the country. Within Burundi, it is estimated that 25,081 have been internally displaced, many of whom have lost their means of livelihoods. In addition, severe hunger and malnutrition have begun to take hold to take hold.”

    TSI understands that while survival priorities such as security, water, food, health and sanitation services are critical and provided by humanitarian agencies, TSI’s mission is education and we support a growing international movement for what is currently called, “emergency education.” The main point is that regardless of where children are, and what crisis brought them there, it is a United Nations stated human right that displaced children and youth are entitled to continuous educational services.

    In addition to providing learning opportunities, a new global emphasis includes training front-line teachers to understand and respond to refugee children living with PTSD, which is critical to their mental, emotional and physical health as well as building up a positive outlook for their futures whether they return to their homelands or relocate in a host country. If left untreated, it is also reported that subsequent generations of children currently living with PTSD can also be impacted by this and other disorders.

    A 2015 United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) paper called, Refugee Teacher Management, cites, “Investment in refugee teachers as professionals and as learners is an investment in durable solutions…Refugee teachers develop on-the-job professional experience and skills as teachers, which builds human capital for both themselves and students and lays the foundation for long-term solutions for refugee communities.”

    We continue to monitor various local situations with our partners and understand that such conditions can change overnight due to political or other influences.

    We are wherever God leads as advocates for compassionate, educational access for all displaced children and youth through teachers demonstrating the love of Jesus.

    Thank you,
    Dale Dieleman, VP Tent Schools International

  • Ruth Kramer says:

    For further consideration on this issue, the Hague is now looking into the atrocities.


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