Burundi violence causes humanitarian crisis

Asteris Masouras
May 21, 2015 · 3 min read

Pre-election violence in Burundi has created a fresh refugee crisis as over 100,000 people spill into neighboring countries.

Burundi refugees ferried from Kagunga to Kigoma. Photos by Celine Schmitt/UNHCR

A humanitarian crisis is developing in Tanzania, where over 70,000 Burundian refugees are living in squalid conditions in Kagunga, a village on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganika, south of the border. Some 2,000 refugees arrive every day.

Acute diarrhea and cholera outbreaks among the refugees have already claimed victims.

Burundi refugees have shared stories of persecution at the hands of the Imbonerakure, a feared youth wing of the ruling party in Burundi.

More than 9,000 Burundian refugees have fled to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a region already wracked by deadly conflict and violence against the population.

Over 2.7 million Congolese are internally displaced, and aid agencies are also catering to 70,000 refugees from the ongoing Central African Republic crisis.

What is the violence in Burundi about?

Protests in Burundi began on April 25, when it was announced that incumbent president, Pierre Nkurunziza, would seek a third term in office in elections planned for late June. This flies in the face of Burundi’s constitution, which holds that a president may not be elected to more than two terms in office. However, the path was cleared for Nkurunziza by Burundi’s Supreme Court on a technicality — his first term was by parliamentary appointment and not a popular vote.

Thousands of #StopNkurunziza protesters have demonstrated against his candidacy, erecting barricades and protesting daily in central streets across the capital. At least 20 people have been killed as police quash protests. Reports implicate the militant youth wing of the ruling party in the violence against protesters. The government blocked access to social networks and took independent radio stations off air.

An attempted coup was announced on radio by a former military commander on May 15 while the president was attending an East African Community summit in Tanzania on the crisis. The coup was quashed three days later after extensive firefights. Protests have since tentatively resumed, with many dissidents fearing persecution.

the reported.ly team

global news, our way — and that means your way, too.

Asteris Masouras

Written by

Freelance journo/global newsfilter @reportedly, @globalvoices editor, human rights, film/games/scifi geek. Social justice/stay human

the reported.ly team

global news, our way — and that means your way, too.

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