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Community-based alternative care for Burundian refugees in Rwanda

Overview

Community-based alternative care as a strategy for protecting Burundian refugee girls and boys: A case study from Mahama camp, Rwanda.

This case study describes the community-based child protection programme implemented between 2015 and 2016 with Burundian girls, boys and adults in Mahama refugee camp in Rwanda.

Between April and July 2015, over 150,000 people fled Burundi after civil unrest and violence broke out following president Nkurunziza’s announcement that he would run for a third term. Families sent their children to seek refuge in neighbouring Rwanda, while the parents stayed behind to guard their houses and belongings. As a result, over 2,000 girls and boys arrived in Mahama Refugee Camp in Rwanda without their original caregivers.

To improve the capacity of the local community to care for and protect the most vulnerable children, including those separated from their families, Plan International implemented a comprehensive community-based child protection programme in Mahama Refugee Camp.

Plan International and partners designed an alternative care system with independent living arrangements for unaccompanied Burundian children. A local, community-based work force of refugees was trained to supervise these children locally and respond to their protection concerns.

A key success of the programme was the successful identification of separated and unaccompanied children through collaboration between community members and families. A network of community-based groups and Plan International case workers collaborated to ensure timely support to the most vulnerable children including placement in interim care.

Learn more about our work on child protection in emergencies