Since the beginning of 2015, more than 400.000 refugees and asylum seekers fled from Burundi due to the humanitarian crisis. Due to the escalation of violence in neighbouring countries during the past year, many Burundian refugees have decided to return to their communities, despite the food and economic insecurity. Considering the conditions they are leaving and those they are going to face, the repatriates – ¼ of which are children under the age of 5 – need medical and nutritional assistance during the repatriation process: from the journey up until the rehabilitation in their community. However, access to healthcare is a real obstacle to repatriation: the repatriates, unlike regular citizens, have to pay for their health assistance; this is because health structures inside transit centres operate and are managed autonomously.
The project aims to guarantee a medical check-up, as soon as the convoys arrive in the transit centres, that includes nutritional status screening and immunisation coverage for pregnant women and children under 5 years of age. Vulnerable cases identified are treated and addressed to health centres in the returnee’s community. Patients in severe medical conditions are transferred to the nearest hospitals and/or health centres. Patients with chronic conditions are monitored for at least 3 months. As a preventive measure and to raise awareness, a training on HIV/AIDS, malaria and sexually transmitted diseases is carried out following the arrival of every convoy.