News / Africa

    UN Rights Chief Alarmed by Deepening Crisis in Burundi

    United Nations High Commissioner for Human FILE - Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein addresses delegates during a special session of the Human Rights Council on the situation in Burundi in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 17, 2015.
    United Nations High Commissioner for Human FILE - Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein addresses delegates during a special session of the Human Rights Council on the situation in Burundi in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 17, 2015.
    Lisa Schlein

    United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said he is alarmed by the deepening crisis in Burundi and warns action must be taken to stop the country’s descent toward a possible bloodbath. 

    U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed regret Monday at the African Union's decision not to send a peacekeeping force of 5,000 to Burundi.

    Plan on hold

    He said the AU plan has been placed in the freezer for the time being, while further negotiations with Burundian authorities take place. “We remain deeply concerned about the trajectories and the vectors that…still point to the deepening of the crisis. And, of course, we are very fearful of a precipitous event that may trigger a slide into the abyss,” Zeid said.

    The United Nations reports more than 400 people have been killed and around 3,500 arrested since President Pierre Nkurunziza declared he would run for a third term at the end of April. It said more than 220,000 Burundians have fled to neighboring countries.

    Amnesty International's report of several mass graves near the capital Bujumbura is adding to growing concerns of a Rwandan-style genocidal war breaking out in Burundi.Ethnic Hutu radicals killed an estimated 800,000 people, most of them Tutsis, in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

    Crisis in Burundi

    FILE - Protesters attack a policewoman in Bujumbura, Burundi, May 12, 2015, in a rally sparked by opposition to the president's decision to run for a third term.
    FILE - Protesters attack a policewoman in Bujumbura, Burundi, May 12, 2015, in a rally sparked by opposition to the president's decision to run for a third term.

    High Commissioner Zeid told VOA the crisis in Burundi is one of the most depressing parts of the international agenda. He said international efforts to stop the country's turmoil are not working.

    “Nothing seems to suffice in terms of halting this descent and we understand from other conflicts - Syria is a classic example - that the longer you leave it, the more difficult it is to then find a way of putting it back together again,” he stated.

    Zeid said he hopes continued international focus on Burundi will have a positive effect. He notes a group of U.N. independent experts investigating abuse in that country will soon issue a report on its findings.

    On another issue, the high commissioner strongly condemns the sexual abuse and exploitation of children by United Nations peacekeeping and civilian forces in Central African Republic. He calls this victimization of young children odious and worthy of the utmost contempt.

    He is urging troop-contributing countries to investigate and swiftly prosecute those suspected of committing such heinous crimes.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora