CRISIS IN BURUNDI/ AVSI: Uncertain Future
In a country which is still in recovery from civil war and in a region where ethnic tensions and genocide have threatened peaceful development for decades, Burundi is now facing political and social unrest which is causing death and instability.
The crisis was provoked by President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term, despite the constitutional limit of two presidential terms. The population is reacting in different ways, with thousands of people fleeing towards neighboring countries, namely Tanzania, and others taking to the streets of Bujumbura, the capital, in protest. The refugee situation is dramatic and risks to explode into a humanitarian crisis if the unrest in Bujumbura continues.
AVSI has been present and active in Burundi since 2001. AVSI’s Country Representative in Burundi, Monica Treu, reports that virtually everything has come to a standstill and people are forced to remain closed up in their homes out of fear of the violence on the streets of Bujumbura and surrounding neighborhoods. The streams of refugees are visibly in grave need of assistance and face an uncertain, harsh future as they seek safe harbor in neighboring countries.
Meanwhile, the education and nutritional center established in 2001 and supported by AVSI, “Maman Enfants Orphelin” (MEO), remains closed. Centro MEO is in the Cibitoke neighborhood of Bujumbura and serves as an important point of reference for hundreds of the most vulnerable children and families coming from the poorest areas of the city. AVSI’s methodology consists of holistic support for chidlren and their families, including health and nutrition, psychosocial support, recreation and education.
AVSI remains hopeful that with the encouragement of the leaders of the African Union who are meeting with the Government of Burundi to map out a peaceful solution, and support of the Church and other countries around the world, that the situation will improve and the people can return to their daily routines and work. In the meantime, Monica and her staff will be doing their best to keep track of their local staff and volunteers and the hundreds of children entrusted to their care, providing whatever support they can.
In such an environment of fear and uncertainty, we are sure to see with time the fruit of the work over the past 15 years to enhance the internal resiliency of the children, families and communities within the web of AVSI’s relationships.
To see more about the Centro Meo and AVSI’s method of work: https://youtu.be/hJVB8lwC1kU .