NGOs Condemn Kidnapping of Aid Workers in Burundi Amid Increasing Unrest
An IRC staff member and two aid workers from other international NGOs in Burundi were abducted over the past week in two separate incidents in Burundi's Makamba Province. The IRC is meeting with local officials in Makamba to seek help in securing their release.
The IRC remains extremely concerned about the safety of the three aid workers, as well as the safety of all Burundian civilians during this escalation of violence. The IRC and six other international NGOs working in Burundi issued a statement today, condemning the kidnappings. Click here for the full text of the statement (French and English version, .pdf format).
In the capital, Bujumbura, more than a week of intense fighting between rebel forces and government troops has left as more than 15,000 people displaced. There have been scores of casualties, but no reliable figures. The IRC's director in Burundi, Jan Coffey, awoke Sunday morning to find dozens of bodies littering the streets of her neighborhood. She said the majority of them were children. "It was a gruesome scene," she said.
This latest round of fighting began on July 7, with bomb, rocket and mortar attacks shaking the capital's southern neighborhoods. Fierce clashes between government troops and rebels moved to the city center several days later. During brief periods of calm, the IRC has been providing water and shelter assistance for thousands of displaced people, gathered on the grounds of the Musee Vivante. Humanitarian assistance elsewhere in the country has been scaled down due to intensified unrest.