Christian Aid in Burundi update Jan 2003

Despite recent peace initiatives in Burundi, political turmoil continues. Since 1993 fighting over political power, resources and, especially, land has continued between and within the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.
Although the new transitional government, which came to power in November 2001, has a more balanced ethnic composition with increased Hutu representation, it has so far failed to improve the economic situation for the majority of impoverished Burundians. The current violence must also be viewed in the context of the regional conflict revolving around the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Poverty and lack of adequate infrastructure, such as schools, roads and hospitals, is made worse by the huge numbers of people displaced by the conflict, both within Burundi and to neighbouring Tanzania. Recent encouragement of voluntary return from Tanzania has triggered off the return of hundreds of refugees each day, adding to the strain on scarce resources.

The transitional government signed a ceasefire accord with the main CNDD-FDD faction in December. However the definitive end to hostilities has yet to be implemented.

Christian Aid helps ten partners in Burundi to increase their fundraising and project management abilities, and with their work on emergency relief and rehabilitation for displaced people, peace promotion and reconciliation, HIV/AIDS, agricultural improvement and income generation.

Partner news

The National Council of Churches in Burundi encourages young people to work and play together to help promote peace. In September 2002 a youth camp completed three brick houses for the minority Batwa ethnic group.

JAMAA helps young people increase their skills and education, find work and enjoy leisure activities. This is particularly important as, surrounded by weapons and violence, the number of child-soldiers is rising.

Volunteers Youth for Peace Culture and Promotion Association trains street children in basic education, rearing goats, picture framing and shoe making.

The Diocese of Matana is busy rehabilitating schools and The Friends' church in Kibimba continues to provide a mobile clinic.