Amid the “deadly escalation” of violence in Burundi, the United Nations human rights chief sounded the alarm at the unfolding crisis in the country and urged all actors in the current crisis to take every step possible to stop the growing violence and engage in a meaningful and inclusive dialogue.
“More than ever before, there is an urgent need for decisive action from the international community to stop this senseless violence. We cannot turn our backs on the people of Burundi at this turning point of their history,” spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Cécile Pouilly told reporters in Geneva during a regular press briefing.
The latest call comes following the attacks on 11 December against several military camps in Bujumbura, which killed dozens of people in the course of heavy fighting prompting the UN Secretary-General to condemn the attacks and add that “such acts of violence can lead to a further destabilization of the situation in crisis-torn Burundi.”
According to Ms. Pouilly, the security forces carried out intensive house searches later in the Musaga and Nyakabiga neighbourhoods, where they arrested hundreds of young men, allegedly summarily executing a number of them and taking many others to unknown locations.
“With this latest series of bloody events, the country seems to have taken a new step towards outright civil war and tensions are now at bursting point in Bujumbura,” said Ms. Pouilly.
She added that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged all stakeholders to start inclusive dialogue and added that there is an urgent need for decisive action from the international community to stop this senseless violence. We cannot turn our backs on the people of Burundi at this turning point of their history.
Burundi has been in the midst of a political crisis that has driven countless people fleeing to safety in neighbouring countries since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a controversial third term earlier this year. Mr. Zeid and a host of senior UN officials including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have repeatedly called for calm and the resumption of the national dialogue that was suspended in mid-July.
At a press conference in the UN Headquarters today, two UN Emergency Directors briefed the media about their recent visit to the country and warned that “urgent action is needed to prevent a descent into catastrophic violence in Burundi.”
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