The Security Situation in Burundi

It was since April 2015 that Burundi found itself in security risk, while president Nkurunziza officially announce his running for third term presidential contest. Immediately public protest erupted, security deteriorated, and violence escalated without remedies until now. It has been frequently reported that, as of 20 December, 2015 approximately 400 people have been killed, nearly 3,500 arrested, 220,000 people have fled the country, and another 15,000 people displaced within the country. Above all, the highly volatile security situation in the country resulted in greater vulnerability of civilian and worsening humanitarian condition.

The events in this last month of 2015 show as the security situation remains extremely challenging and continues to create human right crisis ranged from arbitrary detention and killing, to mass displacement especially on part of the innocent civilian population. Only on December 11, reports confirmed that 87 people were killed in violence undertaken by opposition groups targeting three government military installations in the capital Bujumbura. The day after this bloody violence, an additional 21 dead bodies with bullet wounds in their heads were found in Nyakabiga- a  neighboring city to the capital. Vulnerable civilian sections of society such as children and women are highly affected by the situation. For instance, the body of a 14-year-old boy was found believed to shot dead in streets while he was going to buy sugar, as eye witness told to Associated Press. Moreover, “60% from the total of cross border displaced peoples” are children. The general insecurity situation causes residents to fear for their safety or at least for their survival from death. According to the report of Associated Press “a climate of fear has engulfed the capital, Bujumbura”, what moves here and there are only “security personnel patrolling the streets.

Following the 11 December deadly violence, the international community responded with a higher degree of concern about the deteriorated security situation and worsening humanitarian conditions of the country. On the day of 11 December attack, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack, issued on the statement that “the UN extends its full support and assistance to all efforts aimed at promoting a peaceful settlement of the crisis” in Burundi. Similarly, the Africa Union (AU) Peace and Security Council on 17 December, discussed the situation in Burundi. stating that “Africa will not allow genocide to take place on its soil.” The Council on its 565th meeting in Addis Ababa passed a significant decision for deployment of an African Mission officially named as an African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi (MAPROBU) consisting of 5000 military personnel and police.The deployment of MAPROBU is for an initial period of six months renewable.

The international community, informed by the fear of the likely ethnic based civil war in the country and the alleged mass atrocities, relentlessly responded beginning from President Nkurunziza’s initial claim for an unacceptable third term in office. An increasing excessive use of force against demonstrator and civilian protesters, and generally the escalated volatile security and deteriorated human right situation, alarmed the international communities into taking tangible decision to directly deploy peacekeepers. This is realized by the plan of AU to deploy MAPROBU seemingly backed by UN Security Council. Nonetheless, the response remain at the crossroad, as on the one side the responses of international community criticized being delayed to take swift measures, on the other side despite the AU decision for intervention, the incumbent government of Burundi officially rejected the supposed AU troops labeling it as “an invasion.” The situation lays down the country at the midst of a security crackdown.

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