Burundi: Over 500,000 people displaced

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BURUNDI: Over 500,000 people displaced

NAIROBI, 27 June (IRIN) - There are about 580,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Burundi, an update by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) released on Monday said. It, however, cautioned that chronic insecurity and problems of access often make the compilation of exact figures difficult. It quoted UN sources as saying that 379,779 IDPs were recorded in 210 sites within Burundi as of May 2001.

Following the dismantlement of the regroupment sites, more than 200,000 people may be dispersed in other areas of the country side, NRC said. The largest number of the displaced now reside in sites of the southern provinces of Makamba (103,656 persons), Bururi (87,581 persons) and Rutana (77,901). NRC said the number of the displaced in Rutana had greatly increased since last September due to conflict, from 2,000 to almost 78,000 at present according to UN estimates.

It said that while many people have had to flee their homes to escape violence, displacement in Burundi is not just a consequence of the conflict. "It has been to a large extent the result of a planned action by the government, both in 1996-97 and 1999-2000, which became known under the name of regroupment policy," NRC said. It said because of the bad climate conditions, insecurity and massive forced displacement, malnutrition and disease are starting to cause more victims than war.

"Many displaced people have been unable to grow food and live mostly on international assistance," NRC said. It said that while the overall number of malaria patients declined in April 2001 with the dry season, the situation might worsen again in September 2001. HIV/AIDS has also been increasing dramatically in the country over the last year, it noted. The current WHO estimates are that 20 percent of the country's urban population and six percent of the rural population are HIV positive.

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Norwegian Refugee Council - updated profiles on the IDP situations in Angola, Guinea and Sudan now available, May 2001

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