BURUNDI: EU to Cut Country’s Funding to Avert Conflict

BUJUMBURA MARCH 29, 2016 (CISA) – The European Union plans to cut back its funding for Burundi’s peacekeeping contingent in Somalia to pressure the government to stop a year-long political crisis.

“Support for Burundi’s contingent of AMISOM cannot continue as it is,” a European diplomat said, reported Reuters.

For each African soldier sent to Somalia, the contributing government receives $1,000 a month for wages and logistics, paid for from a pot funded by the EU.

In Burundi’s case, the government keeps $200 a month and soldiers receive $800 each. With its 5,400-strong contingent in Somalia’s AMISOM force, the country earns roughly $13 million a year and its soldiers a combined $52 million from peacekeeping.

Cutting all funding would leave the African Union (AU), which oversees AMISOM’s 22,000-strong force, having to find another donor to pay Burundi’s troops. Already, the EU had cut back its overall funding for AMISOM saying it wants other international donors to offer more help.

The latest move by EU adds to the increasing number of cuts in aid from Western donors trying to force President Pierre Nkurunziza into talks with political opponents in order to avoid ethnic conflict in the Country.

European nations and the United States have led efforts to put pressure on Bujumbura with aid cuts.

On March 14 Belgium said it was suspending direct financial support to the government, affecting a package worth about 432 million euros ($480 million) for 2014 to 2020, although emergency aid would continue.

To resume funding, the EU said Burundi had to free up the media, deal with rights abuses and launch genuine peace talks.

More than 400 people have been killed since last April when President Nkurunziza announced he was running for a third term in elections that he later won and which opponents said was unconstitutional. About 220,000 people have since fled to neighboring countries.

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