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OCHA Eastern Africa/Flash Update 1 - Elections Crisis in Burundi and Regional Impacts

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Civil unrest erupted on Sunday 26 April in Bujumbura, capital of Burundi, after the ruling CNDD-FDD party overwhelmingly (88%) elected President Pierre Nkurunziza on Saturday 25 April as its candidate for the 26 June presidential election. Nkurunziza has been in office for two terms since 2005, and a broad array of actors (including the UN) has warned that an attempt to seek a third term is unconstitutional and contrary to the spirit of the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi that ended a decade of civil war in the country.

Public protests resumed today, with various media outlets reporting that five people had been killed since yesterday. There has been widespread intimidation and efforts to shut down media outlets, as well as intimidation and arrests of rights activists, notably Pierre Claver Mbonimpa.

UNHCR-Rwanda reports that as of 26 April, 20,408 Burundians had sought refuge in Rwanda over the past two weeks. UNHCR reports that together with the Government of Rwanda and partners, they are working to relocate a total of 16,000 refugees from the two reception centers, Bugesera and Nyanza, to the new Mahama refugee camp by Friday 1 May. The number of refugees being relocated on a daily basis to the new camp is increasing due to the sharply rising rate of new arrivals (almost 3,000 individuals arriving daily as of 25 April, up from an average of 500 daily arrivals between 16-21 April), overwhelming the two reception centers. UNHCR, the Government and partners are planning for a continued high rate of influx.

Meanwhile, UNHCR in Uvira, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, reports that 4,000 Burundians have sought refuge in the DRC, while UNHCR in Tanzania – which has historically hosted hundreds of thousands of Burundian refugees – reports only 100 arrivals from Burundi thus far.

No urgent humanitarian needs have yet emerged in Burundi. However, the newly re-established Burundi Humanitarian Country Team has endorsed an inter-agency contingency plan for the upcoming elections. They are urgently requesting US$11.6 million for priority preparedness and response to the needs of up to 50,000 people most likely to be affected within the first eight weeks of violence due to elections. In a worst case scenario, 350,000 people could be in need of humanitarian assistance within six months.

The next Flash Update will be issued within the next 48 hours. In the meantime, for further information, contact Matthew Conway, Public Information Officer, OCHA Eastern Africa, at conwaym@un.org.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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