GENEVA - The Republic of Burundi is seeking support from international donors for a new four-year development plan. The United Nations Development Program is hosting a two-day conference, bringing together representatives of the Burundian government and foreign governments as well as donor agencies.
Burundi's Second Vice President, Gervais Rufyikiri said his government will need $1 billion to implement its ambitious development program. Rufyikiri said his country should be able to generate 48 percent of the funds and hopes to secure the rest of the money from international donors.
He said Burundi is worthy of international support because it has made progress in improving socio-economic conditions and stabilizing the country since a peace agreement with rebel groups was signed in Tanzania in 2006.
Rufyikiri said that during the past five years, the government has reduced fiscal fraud and that the organization Transparency International has improved its ranking for Burundi.
But Burundi's vice president acknowledges that much work still needs to be done to bring down the high levels of poverty in the country and to improve the social welfare of his people.
Rufyikiri says Burundi must resolve its problems of food insecurity and malnutrition. He says the government must also find a way to meet the energy needs of its people.
Rufyikiri says more women must be brought into decision-making positions. He says the government is working to provide free primary school education for children as well as free health for all children under the age of 5. He says more must be done to bring down the high levels of maternal mortality.
Human Rights Watch accuses the government of Burundi of human rights violations, such as torture, assassination, and rape. It says it is concerned about political killings, threats against civil society activists and journalists. It is urging the government to strengthen the rule of law, increase the independence of judges, and ensure justice for all people in Burundi.
Vice President Rufyikiri acknowledged that abuses do occur. But he said Burundi is emerging from a decade of war and that it takes time to consolidate all of the elements needed to create a stable peace.