Amid Chaos in Burundi, CARE Meets Humanitarian Needs

Wednesday, 16 July 2003

Agency delivers food to people displaced by fighting

When the bombing started in this lakeside capital early Monday, Joseph Nindorera's neighborhood in the south of the city was the first to be hit. For three days his family was trapped at home, surrounded by gunfire, mortar fire, and shelling, as a sustained attack by rebel forces left at least 170 dead and some 15,000 displaced.

Nindorera, a CARE program manager, took advantage of every moment of calm to help others. First he checked on his neighbors, then he moved his family to safety. When CARE staff met to decide how to meet the growing humanitarian needs in the city, Nindorera volunteered to oversee the efforts. Even after international staff were relocated, he remained on as acting country director in the shell-shocked city.

Burundi, one of the world's poorest countries, has been torn by a decade of civil war between Hutu rebels and the Tutsi-dominated government army.

"Our staff are working long days, often at risk of mortar shells, to meet the needs," said CARE Burundi country director Kassie McIlvaine. "Often they have left their families at home in a neighborhood which has just endured a night full of shelling."

In coordinating with the United Nations World Food Program, CARE has been providing seven-day food rations to people at temporary sites where families have fled the fighting throughout the city. Rations include maize flour, beans, oil, tinned meat, and salt.

CARE staff have distributed 177 tons of supplies. Some displaced persons are returning home from the centers of security, but CARE will continue distribution of supplies as long as it is needed, said McIlvaine.

CARE has worked in Burundi since 1994, assisting refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), as well as helping rehabilitate water and sanitation systems and strengthening local non-governmental organizations in their ability to assist Burundians in improving their lives.

CARE works actively to strengthen civil society and build peace in Burundi, with programs including conflict management and resolution and facilitating the restoration of the physical, economic and social environment of war-affected communities. CARE is also involved in efforts by the international community to bring a negotiated settlement to the conflict.

"We are ready to respond to emergency needs, but we are also engaged in creating long-term solutions to the causes of conflict in the region," said McIlvaine.

For more information, or to contact CARE, see their website at:

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