Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Burundi unrest: Children as young as 6 arrive alone in camps

06 June 2015, 08:32Katie Nguyen

London - Children as young as 6 are fleeing political unrest in Burundi, travelling for days on foot without their parents and arriving in "unprecedented numbers" in refugee camps, Save the Children said on Saturday.

Many parents are staying behind to protect their homes from looting and possible destruction in Burundi's worst crisis since its ethnically charged civil war in 2005, while sending their children to what they hope is safety.

More than 2 300 children have fled Burundi separated from their families and often completely alone in the last six weeks, the children's charity said.

Also Read: Mormon church moves missionaries out of Burundi

"Already, the numbers of children arriving alone or separated from their families are unprecedented," said Save the Children's East Africa operations manager, Edwin Kuria.

President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to seek a third term, despite a two-term limit under the constitution, has sparked almost daily protests in Burundi since April 26.

Long and difficult journey

As of June 5, more than 96 000 people had fled clashes between police and anti-government protesters, and made their way to Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Uganda, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

"Children as young as 6-years-old have arrived alone at the Mahama camp in Rwanda, exhausted and frightened," Kuria said in a statement.

"A three-year-old toddler got to the camp in the care of its 12-year-old sibling, they had made the long and difficult journey on their own. Many are arriving without shoes and with nothing but the clothes they are wearing."

According to the United Nations, nearly 60 percent of all newly arrived refugees in Rwanda are children.

Treacherous journey

Burundi's electoral body announced on Wednesday it had delayed planned local and parliamentary elections "until another date that is unknown" in response to an appeal from African leaders.

However, Save the Children said it feared more would flee the east African country as the risk of violence escalates in the run up to a presidential vote scheduled for June 26.

Ndayizeye, 16, who arrived in Rwanda with his younger brother told the aid agency they had no money for transport so they walked to Mahama refugee camp.

Also Read: Burundi on the brink of economic collapse

"We eventually encountered a deep river where armed groups controlled the crossing. We had to build a makeshift raft and cross at night, praying that they didn't see us and attack us," he was quoted by Save the Children as saying.

"Mercifully, we made it intact."

On Monday, the United Nations released some $15m in emergency funds to help refugees in Rwanda, and also Tanzania, where a cholera outbreak has killed more than 30 people and infected thousands more.

Save the Children said refugee camps in both countries were already overcrowded.

In Rwanda, refugees were queuing for up to six hours for water and in Tanzania, the demand for antenatal consultations had increased sixfold, it said.

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...