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Christians respond to Burundi

by Hannah Tooley

More than 100,000 people have been displaced after an attempted military coup last Wednesday.

After an attempt to remove President Pierre Nkurunziza failed last week, street fighting broke out in the capital city Bujumbura.

It was reaction to the President's decision to run for a third term in June's elections.

According to UN figures, some 105,000 people have fled to the neighbouring countries of Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Christian Aid workers in the country are now assessing the situation on the ground and coordinating their response.

They will be working alongside communities to help them prepare for local evacuation plans that will come into action if the situation worsens.

The Anglican Church in Burundi will be providing emergency supplies to key locations, which can be distributed to vulnerable groups like children and HIV sufferers.

Christian Aid Country Manager for Burundi, James Robinson, said: "The situation is very volatile and things are tense in and around Bujumbura particularly.

"Many people have been staying indoors, not moving because of the threat of gunfire, wondering what will happen next. People are scared to leave their homes.

"Since the demonstrations began life for many Burundians has been paralysed, with local trade, transport and public services all affected.

"As the protests continue, stocks of goods such as petrol, food, medicine and water are becoming scarce.

"Any further disruption threatens to leave communities both insecure and without essential items.

"With the high levels of poverty in the country, it's the poorest who are the least able to cope.

"The political situation is rapidly evolving, so Christian Aid will be ready to help if things deteriorate.

"We continue to hope for a peaceful outcome."

Reports show that more than 20 eople have died and some 200 injured in demonstrations against the President's decision to stand for election in June.

Opponents claim that him running ignores the constitution and the Arusha peace deal, which ended civil war in Burundi more than a decade ago, where around 300,000 people are thought to have died.

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