Over 8,000 Congolese have crossed Lake Tangyanika into Burundi since February, most travelling in small fishing boats. Aid agencies are expecting more than 15,000 Congolese refugees to arrive in Burundi, with fears the number could rise as high as 60, 000. Most refugees are women and children, for whom the risk of sexual and gender violence is high.
The priority needs in Burundi are food, shelter, clean water and sanitation, as well as household items including blankets, buckets, soap, mosquito nets, tables and chairs. Women and girls are the most affected and are facing challenges especially around gender based violence and sexual and reproductive health servies. Generators are also needed to ensure the areas housing refugees are well lit and security of refugees and host communities is improved.
CARE is working with the UNHCR, Red Cross, IRC and GVC to distribute water basins, jerry cans, sleeping mats, soap, blankets, kitchen utensils including saucepans, jugs, cups, plates and spoons to Congolese families at the Makombe transit centre in the south as well as at Kavumu and Bwagiriza camps in the east. We are also distributing dignity kits comprising of pagnes (sarongs, wrapper clothing), sanitary pads, body lotion, bath soap, plastic buckets and laundry soap to women and girls.
CARE has also established a camp management and protection committee comprised of four women, four men, three girls and two boys at Makombe. The committee is supported by six volunteers tasked with spreading messages on hygiene, sexual and reproductive health, and gender based violence prevention, as well as raising awareness among refugee communities on where to access services.
CARE conducted a rapid assessment of health and psychosocial needs, and the risk of GBV for women and girls, as well as what support services were currently available at Makombe transit site and in Kavumu and Bwagiriza camps.
We are working with GBV committees at all three locations to raise awareness of referral services covering health, psychosocial support, protection, safety and security. These services are already available and CARE is coordinating with other service providers to fill gaps and avoid duplication. The GBV committees are also trained on in gender equality and passing messages about GBV prevention.
CARE is also working with health center staff, building their capacity to provide services, as well as providing medicine and medical equipment in order to respond to the demand for sexual and reproductive health and right services. CARE provides support for childbirth, obstetric and new-born complications during emergencies in order to help prevent complications.
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