More than a quarter of a million people have fled in terror as opposition militias plot their return. Without international assistance a humanitarian disaster looms
Thierry wants to talk, but chokes on memories of jolts and stabs punctuated by the sound of his father pleading for their own lives before masked men hacked him to demise. He shrinks into himself, cold and small on a damp wooden bench simply inside Tanzania. Hell is just a couple of kilometres and a river intersecting away, in the country he called home until two hours ago.
Blood flows everywhere in Burundi, thats how things are, said the young farmer, rolling up his trouser legs and a shirt sleeve to present cuts and bruises almost as raw as his anguish. He asked that his name be changed to protect household still inside Burundi. A refugee at 27, he is just one victim of a crisis that has pushed more than a quarter of a million people into exile, and now threatens the tenuous stability of a region with a grim history of genocide. Torment, assault, abduction and slaying fill the stories of those who have fled.
I want to forget everything about Burundi, even our names, said another young man, who has collapsed at a refugee enrollment post after carrying his 16 -year-old sister, pregnant after rape, across a river to security. They left behind the grave of another sister, killed last year by a government bullet.
Survivors warn that, as the violence spirals and gossips grow of opponent militias training programs in neighbouring countries, a government fearful of losing its grip has resorted to the poisonous ethnic propaganda that fuelled the countrys past wars and the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda.
Yet the world doesnt seem to have noticed. There is little sense of international importance about halting Burundis disintegration, and aid groups say there is even less interest in funding food and shelter for victims.
Our country is on the brink of war, and we feel forgotten, said Genevieve Kanyange, a senior defector from the ruling party who expended weeks in hiding before fleeing into exile. If we dont get help soon, it may be too late.
Violence first flared last year when the flamboyant chairwoman, Pierre Nkurunziza, a former PE teacher, militia commander and devout born-again Christian, informed the committee that he was casting aside the constitution to run for a third term.
That triggered a failed coup endeavor, mass protests and a crackdown that has become a permanent state of violence. On median, more than a hundred people a day have staggered across the Tanzanian border in 2016, figures from aid agencies working in the region show.
They join the 250,000 or so who were already spread across Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the end of last year, in camps that are desperately overcrowded and short of food. An appeal for funds has raised merely 1 in every 10 needed, a United Nations spokesman said.
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