Rwanda was not the only country in the region to suffer from a conflict between Hutus and Tutsis. The 12-year brutal civil war in neighboring Burundi only officially ended last year and claimed more than 300,000 victims, probably closer to 400,000. The Rwandan genocide fueled the conflict in Burundi and sparked further massacres of Tutsis there.
Today, a large rebel faction continues to reject the peace accord and still snatches or recruits Child Soldiers for its ranks. The security situation has been deteriorating recently due to political paralysis and roadblocks in the implementation of the overall peace process. As such, we were told by a pastor not to go out on the streets of Bujumbura after 6:00 pm due to potential "safety issues" related to the ethnic strife and political crisis (good advice for many of the countries we visit actually.) Bringing it closer to home, a foreigner was recently murdered on the streets of Bujumbura by an armed gang of former combatants.
A civil clean-up day, held on a certain Saturday morning each month, was scheduled this past weekend. No traffic was allowed on the roads until 11:00 am and the whole population was encouraged to go out and clean the streets together, streets that show many deep scars from the country’s long and violent civil war.
Hmmmmm. Large gatherings of people in a politically-unstable country that has seen six cabinet reshuffles in the past two years, simmering ethnic tensions, increasing criminal behavior and armed banditry, a poor integration of warring factions into police units, and the odd rebel with a mission.
"Time to strap on the body armor, boys!"
…Or to simply relax with a few cups of Burundian coffee at the hotel where the only immediate risk seems to be a large bird that gives Mike the heebie-jeebies.