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Stop Playing Politics – Burundians Lives Matter [column]


Stop Playing Politics – Burundians Lives Matter [column]

Feb 16, 2016 (The New Times/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) — I must confess I have failed to understand how international diplomacy works, especially when it comes to our region. The current situation in Burundi has compounded my confusion.

Here is a political crisis that has turned violent, in which hundreds, possibly thousands, have been killed and hundreds of thousands fled into neighbouring countries.

The first reaction, and it is a human instinct, should be to help victims. The second is to sort out the problem and return the country to normality. That is the role of diplomacy.

Burundi’s neighbours, including Rwanda, have done the decent thing and welcomed Burundian refugees with open arms. Unlike some of the richer countries of the West, they did not first agonise about how many to admit or raise barriers to block their entry.

It is important to remember that the neighbours did not invite the refugees. Nor are they responsible for the political instability and insecurity in Burundi. All they have done is give sanctuary to people fleeing the violence caused by the political leadership of their country that has abdicated its responsibility to protect its citizens.

The international community should be happy that part of the burden of Burundi is being borne by her neighbours and should therefore put more effort into solving the root cause of the problem in Burundi. Instead of doing that, they have added to the mess, as has become the habit in this region.

First, there is the indifference. No one wants to get involved in the right way and resolve a problem that they all see and whose roots they know. They know that the cause is an inept leadership that failed to unite the country or deliver to its people. Instead it has unleashed terror on its own population.

This, of course, is not the first time this occurs. It happened in Rwanda in 1994 and the grim consequences are well-known.

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