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Focus on Africa - Notizie e Analisi Africa

Burundi, Forgotten Crisis. UN: Killings Continue. Fear of Genocide Hitherto Unknown

Endless horror. In Burundi, there is new evidence of factors leading to genocide. After the discovery of mass graves full of bodies near Bujumbura in recent years, more corpses were unearthed about seventy kilometres from Burundi’s capital city.

These are the findings of a report by Amnesty International. According to the organisation for human rights, that has satellite images and video footage in addition to numerous witness reports, the bodies are the victims of a government reprisal. The alleged killing of about a hundred people by armed forces in December 2018 was “covered up” in the gruesome “hidden graveyard” outside the city.

Human rights activists fear there may be more sites that conceal what appears to be an obscured genocide.

The crisis in Burundi first broke out in 2015 and is far from being over. Security forces and the police in Burundi continue to commit atrocious human rights violations against its citizens. The UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi (COIB) recently published a report in which it proved the existence of a “climate of fear and intimidation” against opponents of the ruling CNDD-FDD coalition party.

The report specifically points a finger at the members of the national security forces’ youth league, the Imbonerakure, accusing them of murder, disappearances, arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, torture, and sexual violence against current or presumed political opposers.

The Commission retains that the alarming violence is being fuelled by the general impunity that prevails in Burundi.

“It is extremely dangerous to speak out critically in Burundi today,” said COIB Chair, Mr. Doudou Diène. “The stifling of such voices is what allows the country to present an illusion of calm,” adds COIB Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor, but, “it is a ‘calm’  based on terror”, says fellow COIB Commissioner Francoise Hampson, “as shown by the continued commission of crimes against humanity and the very serious human rights violations that we have documented”.  

The same applies to the crimes committed when the political crisis degenerated into atrocious acts of violence in 2015, forcing hundreds of Burundians to leave the country.

A humanitarian disaster that, in addition to a shocking number of displaced persons, counts thousands of deaths. Human rights organisations had launched the alarm some time ago: the country is at risk of a new Rwanda.

Many refugees are crossing the border into Tanzania where they are amassed in schools and churches while waiting for new refugee centers to open.

The exodus of Burundian refugees is putting pressure on the Tanzanian government, that has received over 70,000, and humanitarian organizations to respond to the emergency.

Oxfam volunteers are witness to the dramatic situation. The NGO’s operators working in the country point out how day after day, they are finding it difficult to satisfy the growing need for access to clean water, food and shelter for the refugees fleeing Burundi.

The refugee camp in Nyarugusu is overcrowded and the public structures in the area have been turned into makeshift shelters while waiting for more appropriate accommodations.

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