It is unfortunate that the crisis in Burundi continues to escalate day in day out, resulting in more deaths and many more Burundians swarming refugee camps in neighboring countries.
Since the break-out of the political turmoil in the country, reports say that hundreds of people have died and thousands more fleeing the country due to rising fears of even a worse war if nothing is done now.
Reporting on the status of refugees in the Nyarugusu refugee camp in Tanzania, The Guardian said that even though the situation at the camp is not conducive, refugees from the war-torn Burundi are more than happy to have escaped alive.
Thierry, who asked his name to be changed for security reasons, said that "blood flows everywhere in Burundi.” The 27-year-old refugee is a victim of the torture in the country and his raw cuts and bruises are a representation of an experience he wants to forget.
Another refugee said that he wanted to forget everything about the country even their names. He had collapsed at a refugee registration post after carrying his 16-year-old sister, pregnant after rape, across a river to safety. Last year, the two siblings buried another sister, killed by a government bullet.
These are just a few case studies of the situation in the East African nation whose unrest was roused when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his decision to seek a third term, which he went on to win in a July election.
Burundi not ready to ‘compromise’ the mandate of its police force for law and order
As these happens, and the world looks on in dismay, the government of Burundi, continues to resist the deployment of the peacekeeping troops from neither the African Union (AU) nor the United Nations.
On Friday (April 1, 2016) United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted a resolution to deploy UN police to Burundi to monitor the security situation, promote respect for human rights and advance the rule of law.
As usual, the local government countered the resolution arguing it will not compromise the mandate of its police force to maintain law and order.
“We don’t want deployment of hundreds of police officers. The United Nations has to remember that there are AU observers who are on the ground, so we just need a few to help stabilize the situation in the country,” said Burundi’s Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Nyamitwe.
The UNSC- a 15-member council- urged the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in consultation with the Burundian government and AU to present options within 15 days for deployment of UN police in the country.
Although the Burundian government welcomed the French-drafted resolution, they warned that they will not tolerate external authority that will control its operations and conduct of its affairs.
“We really welcome the resolution that indicated our concerns and condemned Rwanda’s involvement in the military training of Burundian refugees,” said Mr Nyamitwe.
But the UN is not optimistic about the promises offered by the government citing incidences in the past where the state failed to fulfill its pledges.
US Assistant Secretary for Democracy and Human Rights, Tom Malinowski who visited Bujumbura and he met the government officials in efforts to defuse the current political crisis said, they are “not focusing on what they say but on what they do”. Mr Malinowski appreciated the Burundian government for making promises but urged it to take actions and actualize the pledges.
He cited a past situation where the government promised to allow 200 AU monitors into the country but has not yet signed a memorandum of understanding with the Addis Ababa-based continental body.
Situation could get out of hand
Even as UNSC waits for the 15-days hiatus to know the way forward on the deployment of the UN police monitors in the country, survivors at the Nyarugusu camp, that has since become third largest camp in the world, say there are fears that the war might escalate.
With ongoing rumors that the opposition militias are training in neighboring countries, the refugees said the government has resorted to ethnic propaganda that fueled the country’s past wars and the genocide in the neighboring Rwanda.
Genevieve Kanyange, a senior defector from the ruling party who spent weeks in hiding before fleeing into exile told the Guardian: “Our country is on the brink of war, and we feel forgotten. If we don’t get help soon, it may be too late.”
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