Press Release: EU provides €5 million in humanitarian aid for the Burundian crisis (17.12.2015)

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The European Commission has today released €5 million in new humanitarian assistance to help the increasing number of Burundians affected by the ongoing instability in the country.

The European Commission has today released €5 million in new humanitarian assistance to help the increasing number of Burundians affected by the ongoing instability in the country. The additional support brings total Commission humanitarian aid to help the Burundian people to €14 million in 2015.

More than 220 000 people, over half of whom are children, are estimated to have left the country since April this year to neighbouring countries such as Tanzania, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda.

“The humanitarian situation affecting Burundians is worsening. The refugee numbers are rising, with almost a quarter of a million people having now fled their homes. This is extremely worrying – both for Burundi, and for the neighbouring countries whose hosting capabilities have been stretched to the limit. Hosting government’s efforts in welcoming those who fled the violence are commendable. This additional EU funding will help address the refugees’ most pressing needs, notably in Tanzania. It will also contribute to humanitarian protection activities inside Burundi.” said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.

The most urgent humanitarian needs to address remain shelter, water and sanitation, as well as health assistance to stop the possible surge of diseases and epidemics, notably cholera.

Background:

Following the announcement on 25 April 2015 that President Pierre Nkurunziza would seek a third mandate, provoking serious political division, Burundi has undergone a sustained political and security crisis  – this crisis brought with it a surge in the number of refugees.

Tanzania has received the highest number of Burundian refugees so far (nearly 117 000) mostly to the Nyarugusu refugee camp, which was already hosting some 60 000 Congolese refugees. Nyarugusu has consequently become one of the largest and most overcrowded refugee camps in the world. While two news camps are under construction to decongest Nyarugusu, living conditions there continue to be dire. Hundreds of people still live in overcrowded mass shelters months after their arrival, while wet floors and cramped conditions increase risks of respiratory infections and waterborne diseases.

Burundi Crisis – 28 on Trial Over the Coup (Youtube-Clip)

Press Release: Burundi Shuts Down Civil Society (23.11.2015)

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In response to the suspension of 10local human rights organizations on November 23 by the Burundian government, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“It is ludicrous that the government of Burundi would suspend many of the last remaining entities, including APRODH, working to promote peace and protect the fundamental rights of its citizens,” said Vukasin Petrovic, director of Africa programs. “Burundi is at a severe disadvantage without an active civil society, and any remaining legitimacy is slipping away with these oppressive tactics. The government of Burundi should immediately reverse these illegal suspensions and participate in, not just commit to, peace negotiations, which have the great potential to prevent a broader widespread conflict and reverse the country’s downward trajectory.”

Background:

Last week, the government of Burundi froze the bank accounts of some of the most prominent local human rights organizations, including FORSC, FOCODE and APRODH. Since April 2015 – when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to pursue a third mandate violating the Arusha Accords – most civil society leaders have been forced into exile and all local independent radio stations have been shut down.

Burundi is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2015, and is rated Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2015.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.