Media CenterCRS Calls on U.S. to Help End Violence in Burundi and Continue Humanitarian Assistance
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catholic Relief Services
BALTIMORE, MD, December 23, 2015 -- Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is calling for calm as violent clashes between the government and the opposition are continuing. The violence began in April when Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, announced he would seek a third term in office, and has flared on and off since then. December marked a spike in violence, causing fears of the country spiraling into civil war. At least 400 people have been killed, and 220,000 people have fled the country since April. Many more have been displaced from their homes inside the country.
“Sadly, the deteriorating security situation in the country has resulted in mass displacement and tremendous loss of human life,” a recent letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, co-written by Catholic Relief Services and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), reads. “We are calling on all actors to de-escalate their responses. We support the Catholic Church in Burundi in its call to encourage peace and mediated dialogue between the Government of Burundi and those engaged in democratic opposition,” the letter states.
While CRS appreciates the Burundian government’s efforts to establish a peaceful dialogue process, we believe that true security and lasting peace for Burundi will only come with an inclusive, externally-mediated dialogue that engages all parties who support a peaceful resolution to the current political crisis. The recently announced date for mediations to begin under the auspices of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is a positive first step.
CRS and the USCCB are calling on the U.S. government to:
- Work with the international partners above to pressure all parties to stop the violence and ensure the respect for all civil rights.
- Increase technical and financial support for development and humanitarian assistance programs.
- Ensure that Burundians access accurate, unbiased information on the current situation by supporting independent media outlets, including Voice of America.
- Ensure the presence of human rights observers in Bujumbura and provide them with freedom of movement to effectively monitor.
“We are very concerned that cuts by international donors toward direct budgetary aid are having a grave impact on the people of Burundi, including reducing access to food and good nutrition, health services and education, as well as other social services for children and vulnerable families. We are hopeful that the crisis can be resolved soon in order to prevent further harm.” said Darren Posey, CRS Country Representative in Burundi.
Catholic Relief Services has been working in Burundi since 1961 providing humanitarian relief and development assistance to those in need.
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit crs.org or crsespanol.org and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.