Burundi’s flood victims receive assistance from IOM amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Over 2,100 victims of severe flooding and mudslides in Burundi are receiving help from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
In mid-April, weeks of torrential rains hit Burundi, causing the banks of the Rusizi river to overflow and flood Gatumba district (Bujumbura Rural province) roughly 12km outside Bujumbura city. Thousands of homes, businesses, and crops were swept away, and over 45,000 people were affected, of whom up to 18,000 were displaced.
Four large displacement sites for victims have been put in place around Bujumbura, where thousands of people are living in temporary or makeshift accommodations. Violette Nshimirimana, a widow and mother of four is among those receiving emergency help. With the support of IOM, she’s been given emergency shelter after her home was destroyed by the floods.
“We are farmers. We couldn't save anything,” she explained. “We just took our children and left. Our houses fell on all our belongings after we escaped. We need a small plate to eat on, a small pot to cook with and small mats to sleep on with our children. We have nothing at the moment.”
IOM Burundi is also planning to provide non-food items such as blankets, kitchen supplies, mosquito nets and additional shelter to another 300 displaced families.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are also concerns that the new displacement sites could increase the risk of contracting COVID-19, due to overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. IOM, under the coordination of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and other UN agencies, is reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 during aid distributions, such as shelter, hygiene kits, and other types of emergency support by implementing social distancing and ensuring the appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment.
“The destruction we have seen here is unlike any other recent disaster and has left thousands of vulnerable people without homes, at a time when having a safe place to shelter is essential for slowing the spread of COVID-19,” said Sam Derbali, IOM Burundi’s Emergency Coordinator.
IOM and other humanitarian organizations are asking partners to increase efforts to provide additional shelter, food, hygiene, and sanitation facilities. To date, the Humanitarian Response Plan for Burundi in 2020 is only 16 per cent funded. Most sectors, in particular shelter, health, and water, sanitation, and hygiene, are underfunded and in need of urgent support*.
“It is our collective duty to ensure that displaced people have access to hygienic living conditions and that all responses are consistent with humanitarian principles,” said Derbali.
IOM is also helping to identify those at high risk of exploitation and organize information sessions related to protection issues for victims of flooding.
IOM is being supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The supported activities are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’ and ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’.
*To see a full breakdown on funding requirements please see FTS here