Rwanda: Helping Burundian Refugees Reconnect with their Families

Rwanda: Helping Burundian Refugees Reconnect with their Families

More than 55,000 Burundian refugees call Mahama camp home. The main camp located in the eastern province of Rwanda accommodates people who fled the political unrest in Burundi, which began in April 2015.

As part of the ICRC's Restoring Family Links program in the Great Lakes region, the Kigali Delegation distributed SIM cards to Burundian refugees in the Mahama camp. The idea is to make it easier for the people to directly reconnect with their families.

Now, they don't need to rely only on the existing ICRC and Red Cross phone call services offered to them in the camp as well as in the transit centers around Rwanda. They can speak to their family members left behind or living abroad, any time convenient to them.

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Sisters Reconnected

Sisters Reconnected

Our client’s ‘Restoring Family Links’ file revealed her terrible circumstances.  Her mother died giving birth to infant twin sisters.  Her father was killed serving in their African nation’s military.   She, her younger sister, and the new twins all had to move in with her grandparents, cousins … and an aunt whose husband was also murdered because of his involvement in politics. 

 

Then, during a rebel attack, her grandparents were murdered, and her little twin sisters disappeared while she ran, with what remained of her family.  They walked day and night over 1500 kilometers to a Refugee Camp. But once there, her aunt and cousins soon disappeared one night, leaving only one sister with her.  And then finally, one day when she’d stayed home sick from the camp’s school, her sister, too, disappeared.  Despite searching for her everywhere, in the camp, in the nearby town, with the camp officials and the town’s police, no word of her was found.  Everybody and everything she’d ever known was lost to her.

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Nigeria: Reuniting refugee children with their families

Nigeria: Reuniting refugee children with their families

Armed conflict in northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad region has displaced an estimated two million people. Around 150,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries while many more remain internally displaced.

The Dar Es Salam camp in the Baga Sola region of Chad is home to around 5,000 refugees. Many of them are children, and many of those children are completely alone. The ICRC works to reunite children divided and displaced by conflict back with their families. Learn more about how we're working to restore family links

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Burundian refugees restore contact with their families

Burundian refugees restore contact with their families

Since the Burundi crisis began in 2015, more than 250,000 people have fled to the neighbouring countries of Rwanda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. Many families were split up as they fled. Now, people live with the terror of what might have happened to their relatives.

The ICRC is working with national Red Cross Societies to offer innovative ways of helping refugee families get back in touch, such as SIM cards for their mobile phones.

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Pregnant in a refugee camp

Pregnant in a refugee camp

Citegetse Laurence is due at any moment. Literally. “I’m past nine months pregnant,” she says with a grin. A maternity ward nurse at the Tanzania Red Cross Society hospital in the Mtendeli refugee camp, she is more than familiar with the ins and outs of giving birth. And, as a refugee who recently escaped ongoing violence in her home country of Burundi, she is more than familiar with the challenges of being pregnant in such an environment. Unfortunately, Citegetse is not alone. 

The doctors at this hospital see an average of 120 patients per day. As refugees transferred to Mtendeli from the overcrowded Nyarugusu camp three hours to the south at the rate of 1,500 a week, that number continued to grow. Of those 120 daily patients, 50, on average, are pregnant. Walk into the hospital any day of the week and you will hear the cries of newborns and see their mothers breastfeeding. Walk throughout the camp and you will see pregnant women everywhere. One doctor tells me that the high fertility rate of Burundian women is their way of replacing the many they have lost. It is a heartbreaking way to think about new life in the world.

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