Burundian Refugees more than a quarter a million, says United Nations


More than a quarter of a million people have fled Burundi since the East African country’s political crisis began in April, a number that will probably rise, the United Nations Refugee Agency said.

Neighboring Tanzania is hosting about 131,800 refugees, with more than 1,000 arriving per week, UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said Friday in a briefing note. People are also fleeing to countries including Rwanda, which hosts about 73,900, and Uganda, home to 22,330, she said.

“UNHCR fears the total could go higher still,” Fleming said. “The deteriorating economic situation is also a cause for concern and could trigger further displacement.”

More than 440 people have died in violence in Burundi, including crackdowns on protests, a failed coup and assassinations of officials, since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for a third term last year. His opponents said the move was unconstitutional. The landlocked nation is home to 6 percent of the world’s nickel reserves.