Donations from the diocese of Qu’Appelle have recently helped feed at least 200 families displaced by fighting in strife-torn Burundi, according to Qu’Appelle’s Burundian companion diocese.
As violence mounted in Burundi this year, the diocese of Qu’Appelle provided an initial grant of US$2,250 to help the diocese of Muyinga support families fleeing from Bujumbura, capital of the east African country. This was followed, said Qu’Appelle diocesan bishop Robert Hardwick, by a second grant of US$2,500 sent in mid-December to support another wave of families in serious need.
With the original grant money, the diocese of Muyinga purchased 2,000 kg of beans and 2,000 kg of corn for the families-10 kg of beans and corn per family-as well as paying for the necessary transport.
“The beneficiaries were overjoyed and grateful to the diocese of Qu’Appelle for the support,” a report from the diocese of Muyinga reads. “These days we see some of the recipients come to worship in our churches.”
The number of displaced families now being provided for by the diocese of Muyinga has likely grown to more than 200 since the time the report was prepared, Hardwick said.
His diocese, he went on to note, held a day of fasting and prayer for world peace on December 16.
“We pray that this and the raising of more funds over the Christmas period for our companion diocese of Muyinga will bring peace and comfort to those in need,” he said.
In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Hardwick explained that Muyinga and Qu’Appelle’s companion relationship dates from 2009, and has involved a number of projects, including micro-banking, education funding and most recently a plan to raise $50,000 toward a hospital in Muyinga.
Muyinga diocesan Bishop Paisible Ndacayisaba did not ask for financial support following the influx of displaced people into his diocese, but requested prayers for Burundi.
Hardwick said that following prayer and reflection, the diocese decided to ask Ndacayisaba how much money was needed to help all of the people who had sought refuge in his diocese. Ndacayisaba said it would cost US$9,000.
“We’re not financially flush as a diocese-we are to the bone in a lot of respects-but we’ve been able to send two installments so far from monies that churches or Anglican Church Women have already raised for the hospital,” said Hardwick, adding that C$9000 had already been raised for that purpose.
Hardwick also noted that the diocese is thankful to The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund for its advice to give money directly to the diocese.
Violence erupted in Burundi when President Pierre Nkurunziza flouted mandated term limits in the country’s constitution and announced in April that he was seeking a third term. A failed military coup in May resulted in a massive crackdown that, according to CNN, left the country in a “bloody chaos.” Nkurunziza won the July election, but the opposition has refused to back down.
Last week, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, warned that the country was “at bursting point, on the very cusp of a civil war” [INSERT LINK: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/Media.aspx] with at least 400 people killed and 220,000 displaced since April, and that the conflict has “ethnic overtones” that harken back to the nation’s “deeply troubled, dark and horrendously violent past.”
Burundi emerged from a 12-year, ethnic-based civil war a decade ago, when Hutu-Tutsi violence claimed more than 300,000 lives.
Isaac Kawuki Mukasa, the Anglican Church of Canada’s Africa relations co-ordinator, says that although it’s currently very hard to get firsthand information about the situation in Burundi, it is now “very worrisome indeed.
“A viable solution has eluded everyone involved and we are now seeing an escalation of violence,” he says. “The fear right now is that the situation may deteriorate into genocide.”
Mukasa says he welcomes an announcement by the African Union earlier this month of plans to send 5,000 peacekeepers into the country.