What is going on in Burundi?
Burundi is a former Belgian colony, having gained independence in 1962. The country has a history of bloody skirmishes between different ethnic population groups. Over 300,000 people lost their lives in this conflict. Approximately 500,000 people escaped to neighbouring countries. A cease-fire was declared in 2006. The majority of the refugees have since returned to Burundi, but approximately 20% of them are still homeless and live in refugee camps.
In 2005, the first free elections were held in Burundi. Five years later, in 2010, the Burundians again went to the polls for municipal, parliamentary and presidential elections. These elections did not go without a struggle. Fraud was said to have been committed. This caused the simmering tensions between the representatives of different political parties and ethnic groups to flare up again.
Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Almost three-quarters of the population live below the poverty line. The business community was marginalized by the wars. For this reason, the economy is almost completely supported by the agricultural sector. However, most of the people do not have enough land to be able to support themselves. Poverty is the result.
The population is composed of three different ethnic groups: Hutus (85%), Tutsis (14%) and Twas (< 1%). The Tutsis form an elite minority that lives in uneasy coexistence with the numerically superior Hutus. One therefore cannot speak of “social unity”.