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.? 

INFORM measures Burundi's risk of humanitarian crisis and disaster as high, at 6/10, with high scores for both vulnerability (6.7/10) and lack of coping capacities (6.5/10).?


Access situation

Humanitarian access is a concern in Burundi due to administrative and physical obstacles, and a general lack of information.? Administrative obstacles and insecurity resulting from the socioeconomic situation are preventing needs assessments and response, particularly in remote areas where needs are highest.? The rainy season and poor quality of roads create additional physical access constraints.?

In 2018, Burundi’s politics continued to be characterised by repression and isolation, further alienating itself from neighboring countries.? The Burundian government heavily regulates NGO activity and movement in the country. In October 2018, international NGOs, with the exemption of those operating in hospitals and schools, were suspended, risking deregistration unless they presented four documents – including a cooperation agreement signed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an agreement with the Ministry of Finance and a plan to implement ethnic quotas of staff – within three months. ? Although many INGOs have complied with the demands, the temporary suspension impeded humanitarian service provision, is likely to increase control over INGOs activities, and could potentially reignite ethnical tensions.? In early December 2018, Burundi ordered the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Burundi to close.? Humanitarian offices' closures were reported in 2017.?

Key figures

  • 3,600,000 people in need  [?]
  • 1,670,000 People in acute food insecurity  [?]
  • 515,000 people displaced internally and across the region  [?]

Key priorities

Health: A lack of health centers 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.?


Information Gaps and needs

  • The closure of most independent media outlets means a lack of impartial accounts of political violence. Disappearances of journalists have been reported, most notably Iwacu journalist Jean Bigirimana - Iwacu is the single remaining independent media outlet operating in Burundi.??
  • Of those who have returned to Burundi since being displaced in 2014, little information on their needs is available.
Key documents

UN Human Rights Council


Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Human Rights Situation in Burundi

Refugees International


Women and girls failed: The Burundian refugee response in Tanzania

International Crisis Group


Burundi: The Army in Crisis



BURUNDI SITUATION 2017: Supplementary Appeal