Violence in Burundi Expected: UN Warns

Burundians arriving in Rwanda after fleeing pre-election violence. Photo: UNHCR / Kate Holt
Burundians arriving in Rwanda after fleeing pre-election violence. Photo: UNHCR / Kate Holt

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remains concerned about the potential for escalating violence in Burundi and has reiterated his call for calm and restraint amid the African country’s simmering political tensions.

In a statement issued Thursday by his spokesperson, the United Nations chief urged the Burundian authorities “to abide by their international commitments with respect to human rights, including the right to peaceful assembly.”

Burundi has been embroiled in a political crisis since mid-April when protests erupted after the country’s ruling National Council for the Defence of Democracy – Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) party nominated President Pierre Nkurunziza as its presidential candidate for a third term.

The situation escalated shortly thereafter, on 13 May, following an attempted coup d’état as President Nkurunziza left for the Summit of the East African Community, which was intended to try to resolve the crisis.

In his statement, Mr. Ban called on the country’s authorities to ensure that security forces avoid the use of excessive force in handling demonstrations and stressed that those responsible for ordering or committing human rights violations would be held accountable.

According to the UN, the crisis in Burundi has not only led to growing tensions within the country but has also spawned a troubling humanitarian crisis across the region as thousands of Burundian refugees stream across the country’s borders and into neighbouring States such as Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Since early April, nearly 100,000 Burundians have fled their country, according to UN estimates.

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