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Burundi Still has Large Humanitarian Needs

Every year, the United Nations appeals for funds for emergency needs in Africa and around the world. Here's how it works for Burundi.

Laurent Dufour is the UN Humanitarian affairs officer for Burundi, based in Bujumbura. He coordinates interaction among UN agencies, governments, NGOs and the UN peacekeeping mission to insure quick and relevant emergency responses.

Dufour says the request for next year’s humanitarian funding for Burundi is similar to last year’s because some of the major issues are still present, such as food insecurity and repatriation of Burundian refugees on a large scale. For example, he says “there are still 165,000 Burundian refugees in neighboring Tanzania and it’s an important humanitarian aspect to insure a smooth return and decent conditions for their return…a lot of efforts have to be put into their re-integration to insure that they can make a living here.”

Dufour says another priority is what is called emergency agriculture, meaning giving farmers--which represent more than 90 percent of the population–seeds, tools, improved storage capacity as well as strengthened cooperatives and marketing support.

Dufour says that despite hopes for long range improvement, the UN deals with humanitarian needs on a yearly basis, and the appeal for 2007 is for 132-million dollars. He says that figure “looks big for a small country, but compared to the long term structural challenges in agriculture, finding jobs for youth in a rapidly growing population and global community reconciliation after years of internal conflict, this [money] is just a transition.”

However, Dufour says these humanitarian funds will help make a link between the emergency needs now, and the longer term programs.