Burundi

In Burundi, violence and human rights abuses are still an almost daily occurrence after more than one year since election violence first broke out.

Working across the country, we support a network of local activists to monitor violence and human rights abuses and respond to incidents where they occur. They spot they early warning signs of violence, negotiate for the release of those wrongly detained, and organise peacebuilding activities to promote tolerance.

This work has grown in the past year and the reports are shared with the UN, diplomats, journalists and policy makers around the world, showing that bottom-up initiatives can play a critically important role in solving complex political problems.

Burundi: Country overview

 

Up to 300,000 people were killed in a genocide in Burundi between 1993 and 2005, in a Hutu-Tutsi conflict similar to its neighbour Rwanda.

In 2015 Burundi was again plunged into crisis when the president announced he would stand for a third term in the upcoming elections.

Since April 2015, hundreds have been killed and over 250,000 have fled the country. Reports emerged of mass graves, targeted assassinations, and rape being used as a weapon of war. Verging on economic collapse, Burundi remains in a tense and fragile situation.

 

Preventing violence, tackling hate speech

In this fractious environment, we work with a network of 23 local peace organisations to sound the alarm to stop deadly violence and defuse tensions before they escalate.

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Local activists monitor flashpoints at the community level and take action to minimise violence.

In some cases, the early warning network helps prevent the outbreak of conflict. In others, where conflict has already occurred, they devise swift and peaceful solutions to hostilities.

Reports are logged using latest mobile technology and analysed by a committee of seasoned peacebuilders. Experts then pass information to relevant authorities and other organisations so appropriate action can be taken swiftly.

We analyse and share this information with governments, journalists, and UN and INGO representatives around the world through weekly flash reports.

Within Burundi, the violence monitoring work of the Citizen Reporters is used to undertake targeted peacebuilding activities. These include community level meetings to defuse tensions, engaging with government and security representatives, and securing the release of people detained without charge.

 

 

“I haven’t seen this kind of information from a local group in any other crisis context in a long time. I know it must be a huge amount of work, so know it’s really appreciated and used.”

 

 

In their words: Benjamin's Story

“When I was invited to take part to the training on non-violence and reconciliation for young people of different political parties, I was hesitant at first. I could not see myself sitting in a room with people I considered my enemies. Two meetings were arranged by the campaign organisers to convince me to join their initiative. After long hours of discussions, I finally accepted because I was curious to know who would be there, and to hear their views on the ongoing crisis and their plans.”

“My fear and hatred of my opponents is now a bit blurred. Today I can freely walk in any neighbourhoods of Bujumbura, including those that have witnessed protests. This was something I didn’t think possible a couple of months ago. Now I have friends and contacts there and I know nothing bad can happen to me with them around. During talks with others, I realised that we have the same problems. We are all victims of those who take advantage of us for their own interests without worrying about our common future.”

– Benjamin Ncuti, militia member turned young peace activist

 

News from the field

Blogs, stories, reports and opinion

Eyes on Burundi: a contested victory

Since the elections in Burundi this week, we have been in touch with our local contacts to hear what they think this important event means for the country. Here, we share reactions to the run up and aftermath of the elections, and recommendations for the new leader. Read more »

Essential work in Burundi and DR Congo supported by UK Aid

We are delighted to have been awarded a Jo Cox Memorial Grant. Cox dedicated her career to standing up for justice. The award will help us to continue supporting our local peacebuilding partners operating in Burundi and in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Read more »

Peace Direct invited to speak to members of Congress about atrocity prevention

On Wednesday 14th November the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held a hearing on atrocity prevention. Our US Senior Representative addressed Members of the United States Congress. Read more »

Research and in-depth analysis

From our website Insight on Conflict