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