How we’re helping Burundian refugee children access their rights in Tanzania

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

3 children smiling

We are currently witnessing the largest and most rapid escalation ever in the number of people being forced from their homes due to conflict, drought, environmental or natural disasters, and other crises in countries around the world.

Today, there are more than 65 million forcibly displaced people around the world – among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, and over half of them are children. And while the word “refugee” might immediately prompt you to think of Syrian families fleeing the horror of civil war, the truth is that Syria is only one of numerous refugee crises happening right now.

Many of the other crises are not always featured on the evening news, with the Burundian refugee crisis being one such example.

Since April 2015, over 140,000 Burundians have fled into neighboring Tanzania after political and civil unrest erupted in their country. 60% of these refugees are children, who have witnessed extreme acts of violence, and loss of family members.

Children and adults in refugee camp

Located in Northwest Tanzania, Nyarugusu is one of the world’s largest refugee camps

Plan International is committed to assisting refugees around the world, and we are currently working in 3 refugee camps across Northwest Tanzania – Nyarugusu, Nduta and Mtendeli – to help those affected by conflict and crisis.

In these camps, child protection is our top priority, and we’re providing children with vital support that will enable them to access their rights and enjoy a brighter future.

Creating safe spaces where kids can be kids

Child-friendly space

One of numerous child-friendly spaces in Tanzania

Every child has the right to play, learn and laugh. After all, being a kid is all about using your imagination and perceiving the world as a wonderful place filled with endless possibility! Giving refugee children hope and helping them dream of a happy future is the primary purpose of Plan International’s child-friendly spaces.

These spaces, which are often painted in bright colours and decorated with inspiring imagery, enable children to play games, get creative, tell stories, foster crucial social skills, and most importantly, enjoy a safe haven where they can forget the troubles of the outside world and just be kids.

In addition to receiving psychosocial support at Plan International’s child-friendly spaces, children who have been separated from their parents are recorded, and we are currently finding emergency foster families for these children while also making every effort to locate children’s parents and reunite them with families where possible.

Today, there are over 13,000 children benefitting from our child-friendly spaces in the Nygarugusu, Nduta and Mtendeli refugee camps.

girls and boys playing, and hula hooping

SEE ALSO: Child-friendly spaces help refugee children be children

Overcoming the barriers to girls’ education

For Burundian refugees in Tanzania, the obstacles to education are many. For example, in the Nduta camp, a single textbook may be shared by up to 20 students, classroom infrastructure is crumbling, and many have limited access to lighting in the camps – making it difficult to study at night.

For girls, other things get in the way of them accessing their right to an education. For instance, there is only 1 toilet for every 340 students, meaning girls cannot use the bathroom in a secure, private setting, forcing many to drop out simply to avoid abuse and embarrassment.

To tackle this issue, Plan International is working to distribute dignity kits to girls in Nduta, after seeing success from implementing the same programming in Nyarugusu.

Girls in line to receive their dignity kits

Girls in line to receive dignity kits that enable them to manage their menstrual cycle in the refugee camp without the risk of being shamed.

In Nyarugusu, Plan International gave 1,000 girls dignity kits filled with basic hygiene items such as soap bars, bath towels, toilet paper, underwear, pads, nail clippers and a torch. In addition, we raised awareness among girls and mothers about personal hygiene during their menstrual cycle, and how to use items such as sanitary pads – as many had never used them before.

Coupled with our ongoing work to improve access to clean water and sanitation in Tanzania’s refugee camps, dignity kits provide girls with an option for managing their periods during learning hours, promoting their continued participation in school.

SEE ALSO: How toilets play a role in gender equality

Create a brighter future for Burundian refugee children

2 boys laughing and smiling

Thousands of Burundian refugee children are caught up in a conflict they don’t understand, but it shouldn’t rob them of hope for a brighter future.

If you believe, like we do, that ALL children deserve every opportunity to reach their full potential, then join us and support our work with refugees with a donation.

Your donation will ensure that children caught up in the global refugee crisis are given the tools, resources and skills to survive and heal, and ultimately thrive!

Help refugees worldwide!