by Kellin McGowan (June 2021)


Nearly 400,000 Burundians have sought refuge outside of their country to flee deadly political unrest. 

Here are the key players: 

President Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza: Former president of Burundi. Failed to step down after his two terms in office, triggering civil unrest. Died of cardiac arrest in June of 2020. 

President Évariste Ndayishimiye: Army general and current president of Burundi. Assumed the presidency after a disputed election. 

Citizens: During President Nkurunziza’s transition into his third term, Burundians protested and called for his removal–protests that were met with state violence. 


Burundians are suffering from a severe humanitarian crisis: not only do Burundians live in a region with a declining economy, but they also experience famine and disease. 


Although this country has experienced some form of unrest since 1962, the modern Burundian refugee crisis started in 2015, when then-President Nkurunziza defied expectations to step down. 


A majority of Burundians seeking refuge attempt to go to Tanzania. Nearly 150,000 Burundians live in Tanzania. 

Why is it so hard for Burundian refugees to find refuge? 

Some countries formerly welcoming Burundian refugees no longer accept them. For instance, Tanzania is now turning away its refugees seeking to come to the region, while expelling and abusing those who took refuge in the country.