Almost 40,000 flee Burundi amid political crisis

Thousands of refugees have fled Burundi amid protests against the Presidents bid for a third term in office.

Almost 40,000 flee Burundi amid political crisis

World Bulletin / News Desk

Nearly 40,000 refugees have fled Burundi to neighbouring RwandaTanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the last month, amid protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

More than a week of demonstrations have plunged the African nation into its worst crisis since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005. Civil society groups say a dozen people have been killed. Police say the death toll is half that number.

A Reuters witness saw about 200 protesters in another district. But most of Bujumbura's streets were relatively calm and police surrounded the scenes of recent flashpoints, a Reuters witness said.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said 39,091 Burundians had sought asylum in neighbouring states since the start of April.

At least 24,795 had gone to RwandaTanzania had taken in 6,966 people and 7,319 have fled to Congo.

The number has been rising steadily on a daily basis, and diplomats say many people have left to stay with relatives in neighbouring states and are not being registered as refugees in host countries.

Tanzania's presidential office said on Tuesday that a team of foreign ministers from KenyaTanzaniaUgandaand Rwanda were travelling to Burundi to assess the situation.

"If there are people who feel that the nomination of the Burundi president for re-election is illegal, they should follow the course of justice to get to the truth and resolve the matter, not use force," Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said in a statement.

The unrest has particularly worried Rwanda, still scarred by its 1994 genocide that killed more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Burundi has a similar ethnic mix.

Nkurunziza, a former Hutu rebel leader, says the demonstrations are an "insurrectional movement".

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Mayıs 2015, 12:47