Insecurity continues to be a problem in Burundi and has intensified with the violation of the ceasefire accord that was signed in 2006 after years of civil war. Sporadic fighting in late 2007 and early 2008 between Government forces and the Palipehutu-FNL rebel group (Forces Nationales de Liberation) has increased during April in and around the capital of Bujumbura displacing thousands throughout the country. The latest round of fighting killed 33 people. On March 8, four politicians from opposition political parties were targeted in separate grenade attacks, incidents that the government has failed to fully investigate. Food security remains a problem with 600,000 people needing food aid according to a recent UN report.
The UN Peacebuilding Commission sent a delegation on April 19 to meet with government officials, religious and human rights leaders, women’s groups, and members of civil society in an attempt to assess the situation on the ground.
The Burundian Army has begun demobilizing hundreds of soldiers, although the process has been hampered by financial and selection concerns. Soldiers have refused to complete the process as many have yet to be paid their demobilization salaries and concerns have arisen that the 50-50 ethnic quota for the make up of the army is not being honored through the demobilization process.
Tanzania has decided to close three of its refugee camps by the end of 2008, forcing the 218,000 Burundian refugees who lived there to either repatriate or seek Tanzanian citizenship. Hundreds of thousands fled in 1972 during violence estimated to have killed at least 200,000 people. Many settled in refugee camps throughout Tanzania and have continued to live there ever since. Now, thirty-five years later, Burundian refugees who fled to Tanzania will be returning to their home country. Some are eager to return to Burundi, but many are not. Many have families, homes, and jobs in Tanzania, and are therefore reluctant to leave and uproot their entire lives. Those choosing to return to Burundi could face a host of challenges, including finding their land occupied, food and aid shortages, and increasing insecurity as fighting continues between the government forces and FNL.