UN warns against ethnic, regional conflicts in Burundi

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Geneva  –  The UN has expressed concern over Burundi’s political violence, saying it threatens to spiral into an ethnic or regional conflict which the bloc is less equipped to handle.

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Scott Campbell, Head of Central and West Africa at the UN human rights office in Geneva, told newsmen that the conflict in Burundi “is slipping and sliding we believe, unfortunately, down a very ugly slope”.

He said that the UN does not have the capacity to deal with the conflicts as it did in Rwanda before the genocide in 1994.

The conflicts in Burundi has led to the death of 252 people, and 200,000 have fled to neighbouring states since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided in April to run for a third term.

It would be recalled that Burundi ended a 12-year civil war in 2005, when Hutu rebels fought the army led by Tutsis, the same ethnic divide that led to Rwanda’s 1994 genocide in which 800,000 people were massacred.

Campbell said that while Burundi’s recent violence had been political so far, Nkurunziza and the president of the country’s Senate had used language reminiscent of that used in Rwanda before the genocide, calling on supporters to “get to work”, which in Rwanda meant “organising mass killings”.

“The UN Security Council is looking at how to react quickly should there be a need to move in forcefully with troops with preventive capacity.

‘’But I think there’s a huge lesson to be learned about the risks of being passive and actually withdrawing from situations of conflict,” he added while tasking the AU to intervene in resolving the crisis.

“The president does still have some strong allies in the region and he’s not feeling enough pressure to rein in the situation, to convene an inclusive dialogue,” Campbell stressed.

In the same development, U.S. Special Envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes region, Thomas Perriello, said that Washington had grave concerns about the deteriorating political situation in Burundi.

“The U.S. Government is alarmed by the violent and incendiary language used by the Burundian government as well as violence committed by security forces and anti-government actors,” Perriello said in a statement.
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Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and the Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, told the Security Council on Monday that Burundi was in danger of drifting into mass atrocity crimes and could be facing imminent catastrophe(Reuters/NAN)


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