The number of refugees fleeing the chaos in Burundi has hit 300,000, prompting the World Food Programme to spend US$5.5 million a month on their welfare.
According to a WFP release, between November and June this year Uganda has been receiving about 8,800 refugees a day, and in the past two weeks the UN food aid agency reported that there were 3000 new arrivals at Juru and Kabazana in Nakivale Refugee Settlement awaiting food aid and resettlement in other gazetted areas.
The release further states that the refugees, mostly children aged four years and below are benefiting from an organized treatment set-up.
‘WFP’s partner for nutrition support, Medical Teams International is screening children at the transit centres and referring cases of moderate acute malnutrition to health facilities where they are provided with WFP Super Cereal, a specialized product that helps in treating the condition,’ the release states in part.
The situation in Burundi became volatile beginning April this year, after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention of standing for presidential elections that were slated for June 15.
However, his opponents didn’t take the announcement lightly, saying the president was violating the country’s Constitution by vying for a third term.
And, on May 13 soldiers led by former intelligence chief Maj Gen Godefroid Niyombare briefly captured power while the president was attending an East African summit on the conflict in his country.
But loyalist troops managed to reverse the coup, enabling the president to return to the country on May 14.
There are about 10 humanitarian organisations supporting the refugees, and the WFP has received about US$20.1 million for the Burundi operation, with the USA contributing the biggest chunk of US$15.4 million. Other contributors are Australia (US$2.3m), Canada (US$1.57) and France US$200.000.