Women Refugees from Burundi Continue to Face Hardship in Tanzania

Rosey Ellum | Jul 07, 2015

Refugee paralegals working with our partner Women’s Legal Aid Centre tell the stories of the Burundian women they have met.

She was 19 and had just arrived at the camp. She told us that on her first night here she had been raped while going to the toilet. She couldn’t see the rapist as it was very dark. She now feels terrified and is scared to go to the toilet at night.

We asked her if she had told anyone else and she said no. We told her she should go to the hospital straight away and she should be referred to psycho-social counseling to help her move on from the trauma.

Since then we’ve been working with her to make sure she knows her rights and how to report violence. We were very happy to see that she went to the Red Cross and they gave her the medical support she needed.

Another woman we met was 27. She’d badly injured her leg whilst fleeing from violence. The wound was giving off a bad smell but she did not receive any medical attention as she didn’t know where the hospital was. We took her to the Red Cross team and let them attend to her. She’s in a lot of pain just doing everyday things so she’s finding it very hard in the camp.

More hardships to face

The women that are coming from Burundi have many more hardships to face when they arrive in Tanzania. There is not enough water in the camp and it cannot sustain all of the refugees. It means they can’t wash or cook food. The refugees have asked for more tanks as the ones already there are not enough.

They also don’t have clothes or cooking equipment as many of them simply fled carrying nothing. When we speak to them they also say that the shelters that are available can not hold enough people so some of them are forced to sleep outside. Food is scarce and is only given to people who have registered, which can take a lot of time.

We’re overwhelmed with the amount of cases

Working with the new refugees is also difficult. Most of us don’t speak their language and the few that do are overwhelmed with the amount of cases. We have not been able to get more staff and we are having to borrow vehicles to get around the huge camp.

Obviously the overcrowding also affects the other refugees. The hospital is far too busy and all the schools are closed as they are being used as shelters, as are any other community buildings, such as churches and mosques.

You can help

Women’s Legal Aid Centre is doing all the can to help the women arriving at the camp. They need funds for materials to spread the word about their organisation, for dignity kits so the women can have the basic things they need like soap and for providing more paralegal training to help cope with the number of cases. You can help them today with a gift to Tanzania.


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