Freedom House: Burundi Targets Civil Society Organizations

A new wave of violence began in Burundi after the ruling party announced that incumbent Pierre Nkuruniziza would be its candidate for president, in clear violation of the Arusha Accords which ended over a decade of civil war in the country.

Since April 2015, over 240 deaths have been reported and more than 200,000 people have been forced to flee the country. The government has forced all independent radio stations off the air, and characterized civil society organizations as “insurgents.”

In response to reports that the Government of Burundi intends to freeze the bank accounts of local civil society organizations, Freedom House issued the following statement:

Freedom House condemns in the strongest terms the government’s plan to freeze bank accounts of some of the country’s most prominent civil society organizations, including FORSC, FOCODE and APRODH, who are working to safeguard the fundamental rights of Burundians.

We call on the Burundian government to stop harassing civil society and allow these threatened organizations to do their work.”

At the same time people are fleeing the country. 110 000 Burundian refugees are currently living in overcrowded camps in neighbouring Tanzania. Refugees are arriving in their hundreds every day, report Oxfam, Save the Children and HelpAge International.

Reports of escalating political instability inside Burundi have prompted fears of a new exodus of refugees into neighbouring countries, which would push the current limits of the camps in western Tanzania to breaking point,” the agencies have said.

As the violence of government crackdowns is not waning inside Burundi, weather phenomenon El Ninjo is posing another great threat to Burindians fleeing the country: Heavy rains, flooding are putting people at risk. The current El Niño weather phenomenon is predicted to be the strongest on record, the United Nations have said, causing flooding in east Africa, that has put two million people at risk of displacement and disease.


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