East African heads of state are meeting in the Tanzanian capital Dar Es Salaam on May 30-31 to discuss resolutions to the ongoing conflict in Burundi. Paula San Pedro, Head of Humanitarian Advocacy at Oxfam Intermón, said:
“The East African Community Heads of State and their representatives must succeed in encouraging all concerned parties in Burundi to find peaceful solutions through dialogue and refrain from committing violence against civilians. Parties to the conflict must fully respect the fundamental rights of Burundian citizens including the right to safety and life.
Negotiators must put the vulnerable population of Burundi firmly at the center of their discussions. Concrete measures should be taken to protect and assist vulnerable persons and guarantee their free and safe movement.
Oxfam is gravely concerned that the current political instability has halted the pursuit of economic activities. Burundi was already mired in severe economic crisis and this conflict has made it sharply worse. Local people are now highly vulnerable.
Given the current crisis, more than 72,000 people have fled to neighboring countries, often pursued by violence. Many people are having to sell their livestock cheaply and quickly – the prices of goats and cows have crashed by 90% to what they were before the crisis.
32% of Burundian households were “food insecure” before the conflict, so we fear that hunger and under-nutrition will be further on the rise. Many of the refugees are small-holder farmers who are obviously unable to continue farming. Those farmers that have managed to stay in the country are struggling to sell their products because access to Bujumbura markets is now so difficult.”