General Conference

Unrest Continues in Burundi

Bujumbura, Burundi ... [ANN] Ethnic violence continues to trouble the central African nation of Burundi, with attacks made even against a church school, reports Charles Montille, executive secretary of the Africa Indian Ocean Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The Kivoga secondary school, owned and operated by the Adventist Church, was attacked by rebels on December 13. The rebels took one of the school staff hostage as they smashed windows and stole property, and did not release him until December 19.

Montille reports that the refugee situation is still critical because of the continuing violence.

"I visited Bubanga, a village 41 km north of Bujumbura for food distribution by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency," says Montille. "The governor of the district told us that since last August, fifty thousand people have left their hiding places and come to settle in the village. The long months of hiding, sometimes in caves, have taken a toll on the health of adults and children. They have been accommodated in little mud huts covered with plastic sheets. There is a lack of water, food and medicine. Every day there are deaths in the different camps. A hundred thousand are still in hiding."

The Adventist Church continues to offer humanitarian aid in a difficult circumstances, and pleads for reconciliation so that the great numbers of refugees displaced by the violence may be helped to return to their homes.

"We call for peace in Burundi and an end to all forms of violence," said Lowell Cooper, associate secretary at the Seventh-day Adventist Church World Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. "The human tragedy must be stopped so that help can be made effective and healing can begin." [Jonathan Gallagher]