Aid Groups Denounce Burundi’s 3-Month Ban on NGOs
London, October 4, 2018,(AltAfrica) – Aid groups are decrying Burundi’s decision to suspend nongovernmental organizations, amid ongoing concerns about human rights violations in the country.
The action by Burundi’s National Security Council stops the work of groups such as Doctors Without Borders and Catholic Relief Services, both of which deliver vital health care to some of the country’s most vulnerable people.
“It is NGOs that provide services to the population and fill the gaps of the government services in health and education that are not provided by the government,” said Nicolas Agostini, the representative to the United Nations for Defend Defenders, a Ugandan NGO that advocates for human rights activists across East Africa.
“So the impact is clearly on the people of Burundi who have already borne the brunt of the crisis,” Agostini said.
Political turmoil has gripped Burundi since 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he’d run for a third term, defying critics who said he was constitutionally limited to just two. Since then, security forces and the youth wing of the ruling party, the Imbonerakure, have targeted opponents and perceived opponents with arrests, rape, torture and killings, according to Human Rights Watch.
Last month, a United Nations commission of inquiry said the ongoing rights violations in Burundi may amount to crimes against humanity.
Amnesty International denounced the move to suspend NGOs. “The measures announced are vague and amount to heavy-handed state interference into the internal affairs of nongovernmental organizations,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s deputy director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“This repressive measure follows increasing restrictions on civil society space and should be reversed immediately,” Jackson added.