• Crisis Severity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Impact ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Humanitarian Conditions ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Complexity ?
    0 Very low
    Very high 5
  • Access Constraints ?
    No constraints
    Extreme constraints

Key figures

  • 11,408,000 Total population [?]
  • 429,000 People displaced [?]
  • 1,693,000 People in Need [?]



Burundi has been in crisis since April 2015 after President Nkurunziza’s announcement to run for a third term. The economy has declined significantly due to political instability and insecurity and with the suspension of foreign aid, which was 48% of the national income in 2015. ?Despite a decrease in overt violence since 2016, violations such as disappearances and torture by the police, military, and the ruling party’s youth league, Imbonerakure, persist. ?

The economic crisis, widespread poverty, and climatic factors are the main drivers of food insecurity. ?Although the number of people facing food insecurity has declined in 2018, 1.67 million people are still estimated to face crisis and emergency levels, exacerbated by population density and movement? The main trigger of internal displacement are climatic hazards such as dry spells or floods, therefore IDP figures vary across seasons. 65% of the Burundian population live below the poverty line and it is the country most affected by chronic malnutrition worldwide. ?

Latest Developments


No recent significant humanitarian developments. The crisis is being monitored by our analysis team.

Humanitarian Access


High constraints

Criminality and insecurity continues to restrict humanitarian access. Humanitarian activities and movements are heavily regulated by the Burundian government: local and international organisations face administrative restrictions, bans, suspensions, and even staff arrests. Burundian returnees experience administrative limitations in accessing services and assistance. The political context makes it difficult for agencies to share information about the crisis.

Read more in the latest ACAPS Humanitarian Access Overview.


Continued reduction in settlement services and increased pressure from the Tanzanian government results in mass return of Burundian refugees, where they face reintegration and protection challenges Latest update: 29/11/2019


Highly unlikely Somewhat likely Highly likely


Very low Moderate Major

In 2015, a wave of Burundians fled the country following President Nkurunziza’s announcement of a controversial third term. Political repression and violent unrest led to hundreds of deaths and a mass exodus of over 400,000 citizens, who sought refuge in neighbouring countries, mostly Tanzania  (The New Humanitarian 15/10/2019). Although over 76,000 have returned to Burundi from Tanzania since 2017, more than 205,000 remain, living predominately within three refugee camps (UNHCR 30/09/2019 A; UNHCR 30/09/2019 B). While voluntary repatriation of Burundian refugees has occurred since 2017, a 24 August 2019 agreement between the Tanzanian and Burundian government indicates a shift towards a forceful return, suggesting that all remaining refugees will be returned to the country by the end of 2019 (Amnesty International 05/09/2019).  

While it is unclear to what extent the agreement has materialised, Burundian refugees in Tanzania face mounting pressure from the Tanzanian government, blurring the line between spontaneous, voluntary, and forced return (Reuters 11/10/2019). Those currently in camps face escalating risks as their options become increasingly limited and conditions deteriorate. Refugee freedom of movement and economic activities across the three main camps have been progressively restricted (Refugee Rights 2019). Markets and refugee-run businesses have closed, humanitarian access constrained, and overall safety has diminished (The New Humanitarian 16/10/2019; UNHCR 30/06/2019).

However, the option to return – whether voluntary or not – presents challenges. Ambiguities around the repatriation process, funding, government capacities, and how the needs of returnees will be addressed all pose a series of risks (Refugee Rights 2019). Most significantly, the question remains if Burundi has transitioned from a nation of political repression and violence to one of peace and safety, as the Tanzanian and Burundian governments claim.  A recent UN report indicates otherwise, suggesting state security forces still meet presidential opposers with violence and widespread human rights abuses continue (OHCHR 06/08/2019).

Read this risk

Key Priorities


Health: A lack of health centres in 50% of administrative departments as well as a lack of health workers and medical supplies is one of the major barriers to the provision of adequate healthcare, rendering the country extremely vulnerable to epidemics and other shocks. ?

Protection: The violent repression mainly targets opponents of the government and/or the ruling party (CNDD-FDD) or people perceived as such but also Burundians trying to flee the country, journalists, and members of civil society organisations. ? 

Access to basic services: A growing proportion of the population is deprived of access to education, nutrition, healthcare, and WASH as financial pressure from authorities and the ruling party (CNDD-FDD) is increasing with additional taxes and involuntary contributions for the 2020 elections, exacerbating poverty.?