Burundi: Humanitarian Crisis Deepens

As 2016 begins there is still no sign of peace in Burundi. Positions are becoming entrenched, murders continue and the long-awaited dialogue between the government, opposition and civil society groups is faltering. Burundi's government will not take part in peace talks with the opposition scheduled for Wednesday, a senior official said, casting doubts on efforts to end months of violence. "No dialogue tomorrow neither on January 16 as many may think, because there has been no consensus on that date," Joseph Bangurambona, the permanent secretary in Burundi's foreign affairs ministry, told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

The talks in neighbouring Tanzania were announced last month as part of regional efforts to resolve a crisis triggered in April 2015 by President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term in office - a move opponents described as violating the constitution. Since then, clashes between police and protesters and series of attacks in the capital, Bujumbura, have killed more than 400 people.
However, most of the human rights violations remain undocumented. "The Burundian government has made it impossible for any investigators to get access to the country in the last five or six months," said Phil Clark, a conflict researcher from SOAS in London, in an interview with DW.

The exceptionally high number of refugees from Burundi suggests that the situation is much worse and prompts fears of a relapse into the decades of civil warthat killed tens of thousands of people. Since January 2015 over 230,000 people from Burundi (about 2.1% of total population) have fled to neighbouring countries (mainly to Tanzania and Rwanda) with many others internally displaced.

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