Crisis in Burundi: European Union Suspends Aid to Burundian Government


Burundi is one of the most turbulent countries of the world. Despite the fact that the country is small and  population is very limited, conflict, if not war and genocide in Burundi, are more the norm than the exception. The 1972 genocide, the 1993-2005 civil wars, and the recent government-driven chaos are some of the typical instances that can qualify the country as the most conflict-ravaged countries of the world. Ethnic cleansing and gross violation of human rights are relentlessly unveiled in the post independence history of the country. Unlike that of its neighboring country Rwanda, Burundi could not learn from its former history. That is why Burundi is one of the poorest and vanishing countries of the world. According to the GHI report (2014), the country has been identified with the worst starvation, a galloping inflation rate, and inadequate social facilities. Here we can realize that deepening peace and security are the preconditions for consolidating economic and social developments in Burundi in particular and the world in general.

Though the country has numerous intra-state conflict balance sheets, my focus for the time being is on the late 2015 turmoil that emanates from the self-centered interest of President Pierre
Nkurunziza seeking to contest for the third term presidential election. The conflict was initially between the government of Burundi and the few civilians who protest against his unlawful action to change the term limit unconstitutionally. But later on, it transformed into a big political crisis. Here, it is worth mentioning that the conflict has caused for the loss of human life
and destruction of properties. Many people have been killed (estimated to be 500) and thousands (ranges from 280,000-350,000) have also fled into the neighboring countries (Joseph Siegle, 2015).

Though there are suspensions for the transformation of the current Burundi’s internal conflict into the atrocity crimes, none of them have been committed, yet. In the interim, many sub-regional, regional, and international actors have clearly expressed their deep concern on the crisis. However, their reaction to the case in point is accused to be too little too late. For example, the European Union has suspended aid to the Burundian Government. It has a mixed reaction. To some, it is a Pandora’s Box to the civilians of the country and to others it is the right decision at the right time. But I argue that the decision of the EU is acceptable but a very cheap solution to curb the escalation of the conflict at this time around. Nkurunziza do note give any credit for diplomatic actions organized by AU, the UN, and other International Actors. So, I recommend the EU to put in place other stronger and sustainable elucidations rather than perpetuating the same treads that other actors are. Indeed, economic sanctions, more particularly suspending aid for developing countries like Burundi, is an internationally acceptable means of resolving conflicts. But it has time to be implemented. The current crisis in Burundi has a mammoth potential to grow into genocide. So, suspension of aid to the Burundian government can be part of the peace process in the country but it is highly advisable to look into other means to bring durable peace in Burundi. Finally, I suggest that the EU should swing it’s suspended budgetary aid into the humanitarian operations especially to the refugees who found in harsh environments in the southern part of Burundi and in the neighboring countries such as Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.