Burundi: Thousands displaced in Bubanza

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

BUJUMBURA, 14 June (IRIN) - An estimated 23,000 people have fled their homes in the last week in the western Burundi's Bubanza Province because of fighting between government soldiers and rebels of the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL), a provincial official said on Tuesday.

"Many of the displaced people have been without food for more than a week," Fidèle Niyongabo, the communal administrator of Mpanda, told IRIN.

He said fighting occurred again there on Tuesday.

Many of displaced people are in the villages of Musenyi, Gahwazi, Nyamabere and Gifugwe in Mpanda Commune near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some have taken refuge with other families, he said.

However, other IDPs are living under trees. "They can be seen everywhere," Niyongabo said. "They are drinking water that may be unclean."

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is aware of at least 10,000 displaced people in Mpanda, the agency's information officer, Isidore Nteturuye, said.

He said WFP was preparing to react after an assessment of the situation and identification of the location of the displaced and their real needs.

He added that WFP's intervention would be conditioned by the ground security situation.

Mpanda Commune has been the scene of frequent fighting between the FNL and government forces. Fighting earlier in June forced officials to postpone communal elections in the area.

Representatives of the FNL and the Burundi government are in the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam for a second week of talks on implementing a ceasefire agreement.


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