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Young People and Political Crisis in Burundi

Geneva, 1 July 2015 – Small Arms Survey 2015: Weapons and the World 

Parliamentary elections in Burundi this week have escalated tensions in the country, with thousands having fled to neighbouring countries in recent months.

A recent study, released in June as a chapter in the Small Arms Survey 2015: Weapons and the World, has investigated the long-term effects of violence on young people in Burundi, and the implications for the country’s future. Having lived much of their lives in a situation of violent conflict, many youth have experienced extreme loss and hardships: the death of parents and other close family members, frequent displacement, loss of land and looting of property, illness, and disrupted access to school and other basic services. In the post-conflict period, young Burundians continue to suffer from a persistent lack of access to education and health care, food insecurity, and seemingly insurmountable challenges to obtaining gainful employment.

The chapter’s findings include:

  • The threats posed by young people’s involvement in armed violence remain significant in Burundi, influenced by widespread poverty, land disputes, manipulation by political parties, and the availability of arms from the civil war era.
  • Data on the use of firearms in Burundi is limited, but new monitoring mechanisms suggest that more than one-third of all incidents of armed violence involve the use of small arms and grenades.
  • Major international assistance projects in Burundi in the post-conflict period have tended to neglect the provision of support to young people, who are most at risk of becoming involved in violent activities.
  • Local and national party-based politics play a significant role in provoking and sustaining youth violence in Burundi.
  • Interviews show that for many young Burundians, joining youth wings of political parties represents one of the most easily accessible and effective short-term coping tactics, but one with long-term risks.

  • More on Small Arms Survey 2015: Weapons and the World
  • Download summaries and selected complete chapters from the 2015 edition.
  • Due to contractual arrangements with Cambridge University Press, publishers of the Small Arms Survey 2015, this chapter is not available for download from the Small Arms Survey website. Review copies are available on request.
  • A regional launch event (Europe) for the Small Arms Survey 2015: Weapons and the World, will be held next week in Geneva, at the Arms Trade Treaty Preparatory Committee Meeting, at Geneva’s President Wilson Hotel.

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