Unrest has led thousands of Burundians to flee into neighbouring Tanzania

The landlocked East African country of Burundi is one of the world’s poorest nations.

Since independence from Belgium in 1962, Burundi’s 10.5 million people have been plagued by civil war. Tensions still exist between the usually-dominant Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority.

Due to current unrest in the country, thousands of Burundians have fled across the border to Tanzania. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is helping tens of thousands of these refugees in the Nyarugusu and Nduta camps.

MSF first worked in Burundi in 1992. Our work in the country has focused on providing  responses to endemic and epidemic diseases, social violence and healthcare exclusion.

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MSF’s work in Burundi: 2016

In 2016, we continued to provide high-quality care, free of charge, to survivors of trauma in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura.

L’Arche Kigobe, a private facility, is one of two hospitals providing care for survivors of trauma in Bujumbura, where rife political tensions and economic difficulties heavily impacted local people. We started activities in the clinic in 2015 during the riots that occurred around the time of the presidential elections.

In 2016, we increased L’Arche’s capacity from 43 to 75 beds, and expanded care to treat all survivors of trauma.

In 2016, teams treated 4,839 patients in the emergency department, admitted 1,801 to hospital and performed some 3,184 surgical interventions. Specialised physiotherapists provided 11,237 sessions for patients recovering from surgery.

In addition, 1,160 patients received psychological support.

Cholera interventions

We responded to two cholera alerts during the peak season (between August and November). In PRC hospital in Bujumbura, a team set up a cholera treatment centre and supported the management of 57 patients.

We also set up two centres in Kabezi and Ruziba and treated a total of 295 patients. To prevent the spread of the disease, teams disinfected 2,832 households and provided equipment so families could treat their drinking water.

Handing over the malaria project in Kirundo

In January 2015, the handover of the Kirundo malaria project to the Ministry of Health was finalised with the transfer of the Mukenke district programme.

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The project had focused on reducing severe malaria-related mortality, and as the use of injectable artesunate is now integrated into the country’s malaria treatment policy, MSF’s presence is no longer required.

Obstetric fistula in Gitega

Five years after its launch, management of the Urumuri obstetric fistula centre was officially handed over to Gitega regional hospital in August 2015.

"The MSF team welcomed me to the women's village. I feel good here; we dance together often. All the women here suffer from the same thing, and that helps us cope. I’m having the surgery in a week. I hope it will go well; I’m confident it will."

Séverineobstetric fistula patient

Fistula is a frequent consequence of birth complications in Burundi, and causes not only pain but also urinary and even faecal incontinence. This in turn often leads to social exclusion and sometimes rejection by friends and family.

Since 2010, MSF has treated nearly 1,800 women for fistula at the Urumuri centre and the majority have made a full recovery.

find out more in our international activity report

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