Ines, 12, fled her home to escape the conflict in Burundi. Separated from her family, she followed other refugees to Tanzania.
“In Burundi, people are always fighting,” says Ines. “I made it to the border with Tanzania and met another family that was fleeing the violence. Since I was all alone, they became my new family.”
Tanzania hosts over 155,000 refugees from Burundi. Children make up over 50% of this number, including many who are unaccompanied.
Refugee children at risk
Toyi Mphubusa from Plan International Tanzania says: “These children arrive alone without any siblings and without a mother to care for them. They end up here and many are troubled, they have gone through a lot of difficult situations which have left them psychologically traumatised.”
I can play and sing and dance and when I have a problem there are people who listen to me
During emergencies children are at risk of becoming orphaned or separated from their parents. This places them at increased risk of being abused, trafficked or recruited into armed groups.
As a result, Plan International has set up child-friendly spaces for over 10,000 children in refugee camps across Tanzania in partnership with the European Union. Child-friendly spaces are safe areas where children can play, learn and overcome anything they may have seen or experienced.
Ines has been regularly visiting a child-friendly space since arriving in Tanzania. She says: “I love it there because I can play and sing and dance and when I have a problem there are people there who listen to me.”
As part of our work to keep Burundian refugee children safe we have provided over 1,000 children with one-to-one counselling, including Ines. “After she talked to me about her problems, which she had been facing for a long time, I realised that it couldn’t be solved in one sitting. I needed to spend some time with her to help her heal,” says Mphubusa.
In addition, we are connecting separated children with foster families and reuniting them with their families where possible as well as involving community members in the prevention of child abuse.