Video: Burundians flee capital over fears of violence
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Thousands of residents have fled the Burundian capital of Bujumbura in recent days over fears of escalating violence as the United Nations warned there was a risk that the central African country could slip back into civil war.
Burundi has seen months of violence triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza's successful bid to win a third term in office. Protests over his re-election have been met with a bloody crackdown.
This week Nkurunziza said political opponents had until Saturday to give up their firearms or risked being “dealt with as enemies of the nation”.
“The situation is tense because of the president’s ultimatum. We think it will become much worse, so we prefer to hide somewhere before all the chaos,” a young man told FRANCE 24 on his way out of town, adding that he did not have any weapons.
Dead bodies have appeared on the streets of Bujumbura almost daily since the controversial election, while arrests and detentions have dramatically increased.
As many as 200,000 Burundians have fled to neighbouring countries in recent months, according to monitoring groups.
Parallels with pre-genocide Rwanda
The UN Security Council said it would meet on Monday, on a request by France, to address worrying “hate speech” in Burundi and the country’s deteriorating political situation.
Meanwhile, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) also drew attention to dangerous “hardline rhetoric" in Burundi, drawing parallels with the hate-filled climate that led to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
"The language is unambiguous to Burundians and chillingly similar to that used in Rwanda in the 1990s before the genocide," Crisis Group said in its report published on Thursday.
Around 300,000 people were killed in Burundi during its 13-year civil war between 1993 and 2006.