Burundi knows a turbulent political history. In particular 1972 and 1993, when two mass killings took place between Hutus and Tutsis, are documented in dark ink in Burundi’s history books. The massacre in 1993 marked the start of the civil war that raged on until 2006. A comprehensive ceasefire agreement was signed in 2008.
The central African country of Burundi is bordered by Rwanda, with which it once formed one nation, DRC and Tanzania. Border areas can be volatile at times, posing security challenges to the communities living there. Burundi is one of the five poorest countries in the world, with two-thirds of the population living in acute poverty, according to World Bank statistics.
Tension has risen inside Burundi in recent months as a result of fiercely contested Presidential elections. More than 200.000 citizens have been forced to seek refuge in neighbouring states following a fresh outbreak of violence and civil unrest. War Child is operating an emergency response programme to provide psychosocial support to the children affected by the unrest and discusses prevention measures with the communities to minimize the impact of violence on children.
Children form over half the Burundian population. The inability of households to meet the basic needs of their children, the shortage and poor quality of health care and education services, and the lack of awareness among households of best practices for children’s protection and well-being make children in Burundi extremely vulnerable to abuse, neglect and exploitation. The mortality rate of children below five years old is 166 per 1.000, half of whom die from malaria; 25.5% of children between 10 and 14 years old are engaged in work; and culturally, children have no voice in their communities or their homes. Sexual abuse is a significant problem, even though under-reported.
What we do
After years of conflict, social structures in Burundi have been badly damaged. War Child works on rebuilding these structures and connecting them with at-risk children by strengthening the capacity of community-based structures concerning child protection. At the same time, War Child provides life skills training for children and parents and works to improve children’s understanding of child rights and their ability to exercise and claim those rights. In creative workshops children learn to cope with their profound experiences resulting from the war, enabling them to build a better life free of violence and fear. War child works with a number of partners, within the framework of National Policy for Child Protection (NPCP).