Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

SOUTH AFRICA'S RAMAPHOSA HAILS 'NEW DAWN' IN STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

A controversial Chinese New Year

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

New Beginning? Ramaphosa Replaces Zuma in South Africa

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

On the green slopes: An eco-friendly revolution in French ski resorts?

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

The Élysée palace, France's presidential powerhouse

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

Is the aviation industry free-riding on climate change efforts?

Read more

FOCUS

The revival of the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway line

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: Girls in Malawi victims of 'sexual cleansing' ritual

Read more

REVISITED

Video: How the 2014 Winter Olympics transformed Sochi

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2011-12-02

Burundi: the rebels are back

Burundi is descending into violence. Attacks on villages and targeted assassinations are increasing. A new rebel group has been formed to challenge President Nkurunziza. Our reporters went to meet its leader in the mountains of South Kivu, in the DRC. This is the first time he has agreed to speak to journalists.

Thursday December 1st was the first day that our Reporters on the new rebellion and political tensions in Burundi was to be broadcast. But suddenly, FRANCE 24 was cut off in the country. I received many phone calls from Burundians frustrated at missing the programme. They have so few opportunities to see reports on their country in the international media.

I had been thinking about the subject for several months. Burundi is gradually sinking into a new war, but no one, or almost is talking about it. It must be said that Burundi, nestled in the heart of Africa’s Great Lakes, between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is of little interest to the international community. It is one of the continent’s smallest countries, it is not rich in natural resources, and it has a limited regional role. The tragic history of Burundi has not had the same media impact as the genocide and conflict in neighbouring Rwanda.

So when a new rebel group, the Fronatu Tabara, is formed and begins to publish online statements, I seize the chance. The conflict materialises - a good starting point for a report. But I want to approach and meet the rebels. Several weeks of preparation are necessary. The armed men are reticent, they fear falling into a trap.

A meeting across the border

Finally, we manage to establish contact. The rebels give us the green light. But it is only once we arrive in Bujumbura at the beginning of November that we find out the details of the meeting. It will in fact take place on the other side of Lake Tanganyika, in the east of the DRC. We will need to climb up to the highlands of South Kivu, as this is where the armed group has installed its rear base.

We are due to meet our "escorts" in Uvira, Bujumbura’s twin town on the Congolese side. But our departure is postponed several times. It is the height of the electoral period in DRC, and President Joseph Kabila is campaigning in the region. Controls by Congolese soldiers have increased.

Two days of walking

It is difficult to be inconspicuous, since FRANCE 24’s viewers will recognise me. This slows down our crossing of the Congolese border.

After several failed attempts, we finally reach the other side of the border with our guides, at the foot of the mountains. We are told the rebels are only thee hours’ walk away, and that we should arrive by nightfall. I reassure myself that I can manage the trek. In actual fact, it will take us two long days of walking to get to our meeting point.

We finally arrive. It is several hours after nightfall when, suddenly, around twenty armed men descend on the village. These are the rebels we are to meet.


A special report by Pauline Simonet and Julien Sauvaget.

By Pauline SIMONET

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2018-02-16 Africa

Video: Girls in Malawi victims of 'sexual cleansing' ritual

In the remote southern regions of Malawi, a violent tradition is practised on young women. Girls who reach puberty are forced to have sex with a "hyena", a man chosen by their...

Read more

2018-02-09 China

Video: The victims of China’s forced disappearances

In China, the authorities go to great lengths to control civil society, even resorting to forced disappearances. Since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2013, political...

Read more

2018-02-02 Europe

Video: Crossing the Alps with Guinean migrants on a perilous journey

Since last summer, more migrants have been trying to cross the frozen plains of the Col de l'Échelle mountain pass in the Alps in a bid to reach France from Italy. In 2016 only a...

Read more

2018-01-26 France

Video: French Guiana battles with migrant influx, drug trafficking

In Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, French Guiana's second-largest city, one in three residents is foreign and often there illegally. To reach this South American region of overseas...

Read more

2018-01-19 Iraq

Exclusive: On the frontline with Shiite militias in Iraq

In December 2017, the Iraqi government announced with great fanfare the "official end of the war against the Islamic State group". The announcement marked the end of three years...

Read more