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Burundi Conflict Mapping

Crisis Overview

On April 25 2015, Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would be running for a third consecutive term, despite it being a violation of Burundi’s constitution. Following that announcement, opposition parties held demonstrations calling for the President to recall his bid for presidency. In response to these protests, the government deployed security forces, which resulted in violent clashes with citizens. In an attempt to prevent further protests, the police shut down many human rights organizations, imprisoned those who were suspected of slandering government officials, and closed down many media outlets who promoted free speech. The violence that ensued was attributed to government actors and supporters threatening and perpetrating violations against protesters.

In July 2015, Nkurunziza was officially sworn in for his third term as president, amid ongoing violence. The election was heavily condemned for not being free and fair. Clashes between civilians and police have continued, as well as mass arrests and home-investigations.

More than 250 people have been killed since protests began in April, at least 700 politically motivated arrests have taken place, and over 192,000 refugees. Since then, Burundi has continued to experience worrisome levels of attacks and high level assassinations.

What They Do

The Burundi Conflict Mapping Initiative is comprised of a small coalition of Burundian civil society members, working professionals operating in Burundi, and digital volunteers, led by PeaceGeeks. The Mapping Initiative’s mission is to promote good governance and integrated development through research, community capacity building, networking and advocacy at both national and local levels. The Mapping Initiative’s action aims to build gender equality and community recovery for the active, non-violent and lasting development of Burundi. The Mapping Initiative’s work takes place against a backdrop of poor governance and corruption; high unemployment; a lack of political will and where sexual and gender based violence is prevalent. An influential presence in politics, Fontaine-Isoko has been involved in supporting and nurturing the involvement of women and youth in politics.

Our Impact

PeaceGeeks and several Burundian civil society organizations responded to the  crisis before the elections by launching the Burundi 2015 Conflict Map. The purpose of this map was to bridge the information gap created by violence and the limiting of media and political space in Burundi since the third term mandate announcement. This map collected reports of protests, arrests, kidnappings, property damage, injuries, deaths, and other information related to the political crisis and aims to provide a global understanding of the situation for present and future decision-making. 

PeaceGeeks Contributors

  • Renee Black, Executive Director and Founder
  • Olivia Russell, Project Lead
  • Andrew Burrows-Johnson, Lead Mapper
  • Frederico Cunha, Lead Mapper
  • Shannon Cox, Mapper
  • Sarah Beley, Mapper
  • Ina Holland, Mapper
  • Dylan S. Waisman, Situation Report Writer

Owing to the personal security of participants, we are unable to share personal information on the Burundian project members.
 

On Sacrifice

48 days ago, PeaceGeeks launched its inaugural ‪#‎GiveItUp4Peace‬ campaign. The idea was to give up something that you can't live without for the campaign in solidarity with those who have been forced to give up everything due to conflict and disaster.

When I decided to give up sugar, I most definitely had not thought through how many things I was going to end up giving up in practice. Among other things, that has included sugar in coffee, cookies, pastries, cake, my favorite soup, my favorite chili, most curries, cough drops, any drink at the theatre (apart from water), most juices, ginger beer, and energy bars / drinks when going on long bike rides, to name a few. And yet, as the clock wound down on our campaign, I was starkly reminded how very flimsy my 'sacrifice' has been.

I was supposed to spend most of the final day writing emails to our donors and motivating our community to donate, but it proved to be an exceptionally difficult task to do on that particular day. Starting in the morning, I began corresponding with one of our Burundian partners, a friend who has been sending me photos and videos of what is happening in her country as we speak. She herself became a refugee this past summer along with her Executive Director, for their organization's work calling on the President Nkurunziza to honour the country's two-term constitutional limits and step down.

For those who do not know, he refused to honour his country's constitution and "won" a third term in July. The election was both preceded and followed by a significant rise in politically motivated violence, including by Nkurunziza's youth wing, the Imbonakure. Since then, the leaders of all of the organizations that were involved in protesting against the government and advocating for democrary have been targeted by various forms of political violence. Many have become refugees, along with more than 200,000 other Burundians who have fled to neighbouring Rwanda and Tanzania. In the last three weeks, our partner's non-profit organization has been shut down, along with many others. Their leaders have been charged with various trumped up violations. Their organizational and personal assets have been seized by the government. Their families have become refugees in other countries, unable to see one another and with no idea when they will see them again. Their colleagues who remained behind in Burundi are now under threat and there are increasing random and targeted attacks every day.

It now seems clear that the country has begun the slide back to civil war. Burundi's last civil war lasted 12 years, from 1993 to 2005, and claimed the lives of some 300,000 Burundians.

I know there is nothing I can do to stop what is happening in Burundi, and I know that we did all we could reasonably do under the circumstances to document political violence and amplify these issues to policy makers. But I felt compelled to ask her if there was anything I could do for her. She replied 'Be courageous.'

I am not sure what that means in this context, especially having some sense for what being courageous has meant for her. But I guess it means to keep going. To continue documenting atrocities that are taking place. To remind our policy makers that their job is not done and that their 'declarations' and 'grave concerns' and in most cases, inaction, are witness to bringing Burundi back to the brink of war. To do what we can so that when we say "never again" that these are not just empty words. To honor the civil society leaders who risk life and limb to bring peace and justice to their countries. And to not lose hope. Because at the end of this campaign today, I will still be safe and sound in Vancouver. And all I will have given up is sugar.

I owe it to all our partners to not give up on anything else.

- Written by Renee Black, Executive Director of PeaceGeeks

Dec 20, 2015
Category:

10 hours left to #GiveItUp4Peace!

Six weeks ago, we launched our inaugural #GiveItUp4Peace campaign. Thanks to our incredible community, we have raised over $38,000. We now have less than 8 hours to go to reach $40,000! If you have not donated yet, remember that your donation will be matched till midnight tonight and is eligible for a charitable tax receipt!

Don’t miss this last chance to help make this our most successful campaign yet! 

Today, more than 60 million people are displaced by conflict and disaster, the largest number since World War II. Syria’s Civil War alone has claimed an estimated 240,000 lives and displaced 11.5 million people from their homes. Burundi's conflict has displaced another 230,000. As Canadians, we are increasingly engaging in these important international issues, as we prepare to welcome 25,000 Syrians to new homes and communities in our country in the coming months. 


This past year, we have worked to help civil society organizations in South Sudan, including our partner, Community Empowerment for Progress Organizations, to successfully lobby the United Nations and international donors to pressure the government of South Sudan to return to peace talks and begin the process of restoring stability in the world's newest country. 

We have begun working with Libyan organizations, like our partner Libyan Youth Movement, to amplify the voice of youth as the country begins the slow and hopeful transition towards a peaceful, accountable and prosperous future.

We have supported the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Jordan in helping refugees get better access to information on services available to them through our Services Advisor app, and we are now in talks with UNHCR in Iraq, Turkey and Greece about installing Services Advisor in those locations. We are also designing new app features to help refugees provide feedback on how the UN can better support their needs. 

In the coming year, PeaceGeeks will continue to support those affected by conflict in three main ways 

  1. Continuing to help those displaced by conflict to get access to the services provided by humanitarian organizations operating in host communities.
  2. Exploring how technology can play a role in helping refugees to resettle into their new homes and communities here in Canada.
  3. By contining our work with grassroots peacebuilders and civil society leaders to strengthen peace, accountability and human rights, we will work toward preventing conflict and displacement from occurring in the first place. 

Many challenges remain. In Burundi, our partner Fontaine-Isoko, as well as other civil society leaders, journalists and opposition parties are being violently targeted for attempting to hold the President accountable for violating the country's constitutional two-term limit. As I write, there is a very real risk that Burundi is sliding back towards civil war 9 years after the signing of the peace agreement.

It is in times like these, more than ever, that we must not only support civil society leaders working at home to affect change, but also find our voice to ensure that our country and the institutions that represent us in the world do more to prevent conflicts from escalating into armed violence. We must be courageous so that our partners can continue to do their work. And we need to act as global citizens to address the complex challenges that lie ahead. 

Thank you again for making it possible for PeaceGeeks to support our community of changemakers and peacebuilders in 2016!

Dec 14, 2015
Category:

Fontaine-ISOKO

Crisis Overview

Belgian’s colonial legacy in Burundi had pitted the ethnic groups of Hutu and Tutsi against each other. By independence in 1962, Burundi immediately descended into violent ethnic conflict. In 1972, the Tutsi-dominated army carried out mass killings on the Hutu population in an attempted genocide. In 1993, following Burundi’s first multi-party elections, Hutus attempted to perpetrate the genocide of Tutsis. Between 1962 and 1993, 250,000 people were killed due to ethnic violence. Following the assassination of the country’s first democratically-elected leader in 1993, Burundi descended into civil war, causing the deaths of over 300,000 people. International intervention led to a fragile peace agreement in 2005, though instability and civil unrest continue to threaten the region.

What They Do

Fontaine-ISOKO is a non-profit organization dedicated to building peace and security, gender equality, good governance, and community development throughout Burundi. They attempt to counter decades of marginalization, poverty, and discrimination, by developing education and engagement programs, such as their ‘Youth Engage Program’ (YEP) or ‘My Role,’ which seeks to end gender-based violence. Fontaine-ISOKO promotes female and youth political participation, as well as male participation. They conduct research on the effects of women’s participation in government, and the exploitation of youth, which they use to construct training and advocacy programs. Their mission is to promote partnership in building a better Burundi.

Our Impact

PeaceGeeks was able to help Fontaine-ISOKO build a website which they can effectively navigate, and update regularly. We helped train them on website management and organization. PeaceGeeks also created a site in English, that they use to communicate with the international public, as well as donors. PeaceGeeks will continue to work with Fontaine-ISOKO to build a French web platform, so that the organization can better communicate with the local population.

 

Due to the technical assistance from Amani Project team, Fountain-ISOKO has redefined its communication strategies on its key programs. Working with PeaceGeeks on the Amani Project has been a marvellous and inspiring opportunity for me and for Fountain-ISOKO. Long live to this partnership!

Christian Ngendahimana, Executive Director
Deliverables Summary
  • Website redesign
  • Amani Training
  • Newsletter setup

PeaceGeeks Contributors

 Renee Black - Project Manager - Jayde Chang - Graphic Designer

Fontaine-ISOKO Contributors

Christian Ngendahimana - Executive Director - Alida Ndayikeza - Communications Officer

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