The Current

Activist who fled Burundi says her country could slide into civil war

In the East African country of Burundi, hundreds have been killed in political unrest this year and it appears to be getting worse. Now the UN is worried that Burundi is rushing towards a civil war.
Suspected fighters are paraded before the media by Burundian police near a recovered cache of weapons after clashes in the capital Bujumbura, Burundi December 12, 2015. (REUTERS)

At an emergency meeting last week, the U.N.'s high commissioner for Human Rights expressed grave concerns for the nation of Burundi. Bloodshed broke out in the small, east African country this spring after president Pierre Nkurunziza announced he'd seek a controversial third term in power, which he went on to win in July. Since then, the violence has not stopped. Rough estimates say 400 have died, while hundreds of thousands more have fled the country.Many fear the nation could be slipping back into the civil war it emerged from ten years ago. That conflict pitted ethnic Hutus against Tutsis.

Concerns deepened yesterday after Burundi's government rejected a proposal from the African Union to send in five thousand peacekeeping troops to protect citizens.

  • Jeffrey Gettleman is the East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times. His coverage of the region earned him the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. He was in Bujumbura, Burundi.   

  • As the violence inside Burundi escalates, more and more are fleeing the country. Estimates are that a quarter million have already left. Most have made their way to neighbouring countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo., though some have applied to be refugees in Canada.

    • Ketty Nivyabandi is a poet and an activist from Burundi. She arrived in Canada this summer after receiving threats for her activism in Burundi. She was in Calgary.

    This segment was produced by The Current's Julian Uzielli and Sujata Berry.