In response to the local and legislative elections held in Burundi this Monday, June 29, Paula San Pedro, Head of Humanitarian Advocacy at Oxfam Intermón said:
“Oxfam is concerned that local and legislative elections in Burundi have been held in a climate of tension and fear, evident in the city but also in some provinces outside. The elections have been marred by the absence of opposition parties and the independent media.”
“In recent months, thousands of people have fled from violence into neighboring countries; therefore they could not participate in the elections process either. According to the UNHCR there are now around 127,000 Burundians living in neighboring countries. Up to 300 people each day are fleeing Burundi into Tanzania.
“Many countries have withdrawn their observation missions, arguing that conditions are lacking for free and fair elections. The results of the elections risk lacking recognition by the international community and a significant part of the Burundian population.
“It is imperative that the international community works to avoid the possible return to civil conflict and to ensure the protection of the Burundian population. Urgent steps are needed to disarm civilians and to reopen the independent media in order to ensure the right of free expression.”
Note to Editors:
Oxfam has worked in Burundi since 1990. The organization started working in the country in response to the civil emergency but has gradually oriented its work toward reconstruction and development, including food security, good governance and citizen participation, peace building and rehabilitation of the affected persons, the right to be heard and supporting women rights.
The political situation has had a major impact on an economy that was already weak, which has increased people’s vulnerability. Oxfam is conducting food distribution programming in Kabonga, in coordination with the World Food Program, for 5,000 households.
Oxfam is also responding in neighboring countries like Tanzania, working with local partners in Kagunga and Nyarugusu refugee camp to provide enough clean water for all, as well as building more toilets and carrying out hygiene education among the refugee community to reduce the risk of the spread of disease.