(In photo: Dorothe talks to NRC's Education Officer Joyce William John in Mtendeli refugee camp, Tanzania)

Dorothe, 19, is a student waiting to join the YEP courses by NRC in Tanzania. Back in Burundi, Dorothe was a married woman living with her husband, Mbarushimana. They had one son, two year-old Imani, and lived in Burundi’s Muyange Village. She remembers that life in Burundi was what is described in most popular story books as ‘happily-ever-after’. 

“We used to eat healthy food such as bananas, cassava, beans, millet and ground nuts. My husband was a good farmer, our harvests were plentiful and very rewarding,” she says.

But this 'fairy-tale' came to an abrupt end one day, when armed militiamen stormed into their compound. “They were about five or six. Armed with machetes. Without any preamble, they kicked the door open and demanded to have a word with Mbarushimana. Seeing the danger of defying such an encounter, Mbarushimana promptly presented himself. A big man grabbed him by the shoulder and led him out of the house. That was the last time that anyone ever saw Mbarushimana," she narrates.

Three days later, word went round that the men, or another band of militiamen, was on its way to the village. Dorothe, fearing for her life, grabbed a bag and threw in a few clothes, got hold of her child and ran for the hills. 

Her husband had always expressed fears for his life, saying that he had received death threats from people who claimed to be ruling party henchmen or spies. His support for the opposition was the cause of their grief. He had declined to attend ruling party meetings despite repeated summons. The Muyange village population was a mixture of government and opposition supporters.

“It is now a foregone conclusion that they must have murdered him in a forest somewhere, it was very clear what their intention had been. I have also come across dead bodies of people killed in thickets and roadsides, for similar reasons,” she says. She had also witnessed people fighting in restaurants due to political misunderstanding.  

Going to Tanzania

“It took us two days to reach the Tanzanian border. We walked on foot all the way. We were ten people; my grandmother, my older brother, wife of my brother, elder sister, my son, younger brother and two other children,” she says.

“We spent the first night in the house of a family friend and continued with the journey the following day. We ate some cassava and beans which we had carried along,” she says.

Life as a refugee

“The best thing with the life here at Mtendeli refugee camp is that we can sleep at night without fear of being ambushed and abducted by militiamen. It is a peaceful environment and very rewarding,” she says

However, challenges are not very far away. “There is lack of freedom of movement, especially those who intend to go outside the refugee camp. We were not used to this restriction. We cannot get access to the things that we need,” she says. 

She also misses her husband Mbarushimana. “He used to buy clothes and food. But now I have to struggle on my own. I feel lonely,” she says.

Vocational studies

“Education is very important. I always regret all the missed opportunities during my early childhood years. Those who started early have moved ahead quickly, they are more confident and prosperous,” she says. 

Luckily, now she has an opportunity to gain some skills. She has been selected to join the vocational studies under the Youth Education Pack (YEP) programme that is set to commence in Mtendeli later in the year. “I am happy to be among the selected group of learners to begin the YEP courses. If I learn to read and write, I can get employment from NGOs. If I learn a skill like baking bread, I can start my own business,” she says. She is interested in baking, tailoring and cooking.

Through her son, she hopes to correct the mistakes of her lost opportunities to get an early education. “Imani means faith. My son will be the demonstration of my faith in education,” she says.

Dorothe was born in Tanzania’s Rumasi refugee camp which has since been wound up. She left the camp when she was seven years old and returned to Burundi. “I think that one day I will return to Burundi. Life can only get better, I believe,” she says.

Dorothe quotes:

“I was in Burundi I was afraid of the conflict. My husband was abducted and killed. I was afraid of being taken too. I fled.”
“My husband, the father of my child. It was 8pm. I saw people taking him at that night. Up to this time I don’t know where they took him, I think they killed him.”

“I became afraid because my husband had been taken. I fled thinking that they could also take me with my child and kill us.”

“At night, we used to hear guns. When morning came, we heard that people had been killed. We could see others fleeing.”

“When they took my husband I was very afraid.”

“I fled. I came on foot, walking for two days. At the border, they gave us a car which took us up to Rumasi. Then we were taken to this camp.”

“I miss my home and friends whom we used to sit together talking. And food that I was getting there. Now I don’t get them; bananas, cassava. When a person is not at home, life becomes difficult.“

“I wish there could be peace so that I go back to my home.”
“I schooled in Burundi and dropped out at first grade because I had no one to help me. I decided to drop out. Now here in the camp NRC has accepted us older youth to learn. I thank NRC.”

“I wish I could study so that I know my life, I know my body, I get many friends like the ones I had.”

“I wish I could study vocational skills which will help me to take care of my child, and get a job for my child.”

“With training, I will learn to make bread that people will prefer and I will be selling them.”

“Thank you for telling my story.”

Photo: NRC/Ingrid Prestetun
Foto: Ingrid Prestetun/NRC Flyktinghjälpen

Vårt arbete i Tanzania

2016 startade NRC Flyktinghjälpen i Kigomaregionen i Tanzania, för att hjälpa människor på flykt från Burundi. Hjälpen omfattar vatten- och sanitetstjänster, utbildning och skydd.


Humanitär översikt

Tanzania är värdland för 237 833 flyktingar (160 271 burundier, 77 404 kongoleser och 158 av andra nationaliteter). Tanzania propagerar för ett frivilligt återvändande för burundier och i augusti hade över 15 000 frivilligt återvänt till sitt hemland. Antalet registrerade återvändande ökar och UNHCR räknar med att i slutet av 2020 kommer denna siffra att uppgå till 30 000.

Då det skett en betydande nedgång i finansieringen har humanitära organisationer svårt att bistå med grundläggande tjänster såsom dricksvatten, utbildning, skydd och sociala tjänster.

Tanzania drog sig ur FN:s ”Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework”, en övergripande åtgärdsram för flyktingar, och har infört begränsningar i flyktingars tillgång till försörjningsprojekt. Under tiden är alla gränser stängda för flyktingar. Med begränsade resurser och finansiering är situationen fortsatt mycket allvarlig. Genom ett trepartsavtal mellan Burundi, Tanzania och UNHCR beräknades 90 000 burundiska flyktingar återvända under 2019. NRC arbetar för att principerna för frivilligt återvändande ska upprätthållas. Dessa innebär att återvändandet ska bygga på ett välgrundat beslut och kunna ske på ett värdigt sätt och till säkra områden.


NRC Flyktinghjälpens arbete

Efter att inbördeskriget bröt ut i Burundi 2015 påbörjade vi våra insatser i Tanzania för att stödja människor som bor i flyktinglägren Mtendeli och Nduta nära den burundiska gränsen. I maj 2017 utökade vi vår verksamhet till Nyarugusu. Sedan januari 2020 genomför vi program inom WASH (vatten, sanitet och hygien), skydd och infrastruktur i samtliga tre läger i egenskap av UNHCR:s huvudsakliga genomförandepartner, utbildning i Mtendeli och Nyarugusu samt ICLA (information, rådgivning och juridisk hjälp) i flyktinglägret Nduta.