UN Refugee Chief Says a Crisis is Emerging in Burundi


By Oliver Ngwenya    07-May-2015 09:47 UTC+02:00
UN Refugee Chief, Antonio Guterres who says the world must prepare for the emerging crisi in Burundi.  Image: UNHCR

UN Refugee Chief Antonio Guterres says the world must prepare for the emerging crisis in Burundi.
Image: UNHCR

The United Nations announced on Wednesday that they are very worried about the developments in the Great Lakes Region country of Burundi following the political unrests that have been unfolding in that country. The UN Refugee Agency chief, Antonio Guterres said that his agency was “extremely worried by the political crisis in Burundi that has led to more than 30 000 000 fleeing the country ahead of the upcoming elections.

Things took a turn for the worse when the incumbent president of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, a former rebel leader of the Hutu majority in the formerly war-torn country, was nominated by his party to stand for President of the country, an action that goes with the constitution of the country which limits the country’s president to two terms only. While his detractors contend that he has served his two terms and should relinquish power to someone else, his supporters argue that he has served only one term in which he was selected by the people in a popular vote. This comes, they argue, from the fact that, for his first term, he was nominated by parliament. In this regard, they posit that he has only served one term in which he was voted into office and is still eligible to stand for another term. This impasse has led to a number of protests in the country, which have led to clashes between the police and the public. Some members of the public, fearing the worst as the Election Day approaches, have resorted to trekking out of the country to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Rwanda.

It was in this context that the UN Refugee Agency chief was speaking when he said: “We thought Burundian refugees were something we would never have to discuss again. Unfortunately, we are back to having a significant outflow of Burundians. It must stop – we have enough crises in the world.” He was referring to a 13 year civil war in Burundi that only ended in 2006, pitting the majority Hutu against the minority Tutsis and also drew in neighbouring Rwanda. He added that the UN had spent millions of dollars resettling thousands of Burundian refugees who had fled the violence and civil war to return to their homeland, only for them to be destabilized again. Guterres said : “We helped 500000 Burundian refugees to go home in safety and dignity and we resettled 200000 more. We thought that was a problem that was over.”

He called on the world to prepare for the crisis that will emerge if the election in Burundi proves to be violent.


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