Over half a million men, women and children forced from their homes by the fighting in Burundi are in urgent need of more help from the international community, a senior United Nations relief official warned today at the conclusion of a three-day mission to the country.
"The country is facing one of the most acute problems of population displacement in Africa today," said Ross Mountain, UN Assistant Emergency Relief Coordinator and Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). "These populations, particularly women and children, are in urgent need of increased assistance. It is of vital importance that supplies for the short- and long-term displaced can be delivered at all times."
According to a statement issued by the OCHA Office in Burundi, the country remains one of the most under-funded of all humanitarian emergency appeals. Only 15 per cent of the $102 million needed this year has been received.
Mr. Mountain said that the signature of a "Framework for Consultation of Protection of Internally Displaced Persons" by the Minister of Human Rights and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Burundi had been "a great step forward" in ensuring the protection of displaced populations.
The nutritional crisis, he said, was another issue of "major concern." In March 2001, more than 98,000 malnourished patients received supplementary nurture, compared to 40,000 in March 2000. Malaria is also a worry, he said. Close to 247,000 patients received treatment for the disease in April 2001, 150,000 more than the year before.