On November 12, 2015, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2248 (2015) in response to concerns about the increasing unrest and violence in Burundi. The conditions about which the UN is concerned include: dead bodies dumped nightly in the streets of Bujumbura, the capital city; 210,000 persons fleeing the country to escape the violence; arbitrary arrests and detentions of citizens; targeting of the opposition, journalists, human rights defenders, and their families. In addition, more than 240 have been killed since April when President Pierre Nkurunziza, who was believed to barred from reelection because he’d already served the maximum two terms, decided to run for a third term; Nkurunziza won the election because the opposition party boycotted the vote.
The Republic of Burundi was a state of the former 16th century Tutsi Kingdom. It eventually was made a part of German East Africa, with present-day Rwanda and Tanzania, before being transferred to Belgian trusteeship. Burundi declared its independence in 1962 but was under the absolute power of the Mwami (king) until 1965. The country experienced rebellions and warfare until 1967 when the military deposed the Mwami, and Burundi was declared a Republic.
Like its northern neighbor, Burundi is primarily composed of two ethnic groups: the Tutsis (14%), who make up the majority of the military, and the Hutus (85%). While there has been some violent conflict between the two groups, Burundi has been able to escape the level of strife and genocide of Rwanda. The Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement of August 2000 was an effort to ameliorate some of these conflicts, but there is some concern about the current attempts to roll back the power-sharing and peace.
Many, including the UN Security Council, are concerned that the current conditions will escalate into a genocide similar to Rwanda.
To read more about this issue, read the links below:
Burundi: Conflict Profile
Burundi: Security Council calls for political talks to resolve crisis peacefully
UN condemns Burundi killings as violence escalates
UN moves to prevent ‘possible genocide’ in Burundi
Burundi: Why the Arusha Accords are Central