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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Tuesday 4 January 2005

BURUNDI: Renewed fighting displaces thousands in Bujumbura Rural

BUJUMBURA, 4 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - Thousands of civilians have been displaced following fierce fighting on Saturday in Burundi's western province of Bujumbura Rural.

The internally displaced persons (IDPs) have not received aid, the governor of the province, Ignace Ntawembarira, said.

Fighting was reported in the communes of Isale, Nyabiraba and Kanyosha, east of the capital, Bujumbura, between the rebel faction Forces nationales de libration (FNL) of Agathon Rwasa, and a coalition of the Burundian army and troops loyal to Pierre Nkurunziza, leader of the former largest rebel faction in the country, the Conseil national de la defense de la democratie-Forces de defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD).

"No displacement sites have been created," Ntawembarira said. In Kanyosha, IDPs "are currently sleeping in schools, court buildings or in people's homes", he said, adding that the only aid they had received was from the International Rescue Committee, which brought in water.

Army spokesman Commandant Adolphe Manirakiza said 45 FNL combatants were killed in the fighting, along with three government soldiers. However, FNL spokesman Pasteur Habimana said only 16 FNL fighters died.

The total number of new IDPs in the province is unclear. According to a local radio station, they number more than 25,000. However, Ntawembarira said he did not have an exact figure, nor did any other official contacted by IRIN.

Ntawembarira said that 6,000 IDPs were known to be in the Bujumbura neighbourhoods of Ruyaga in Kanyosha and that another 5,000 were in Vugizo, a town on the outskirts east of Bujumbura.

Until Saturday's fighting, refugees and IDPs had been returning to their homes in record numbers. Many IDPs returned to their homes in Bujumbura Rural in the last two weeks.

On Monday, security forces blocked IDPs from returning to their homes pending the burial of those killed in the conflict.

Ntawembarira said the bodies could cause diseases and called on people, who have not fled the conflict zones, to search for and bury the bodies as quickly as possible.

Manirakiza said the FNL fighters had fled either to Rukoko forest or across the border into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Still, on Monday, fighting resumed in Gashinge and Sango areas, on the southern outskirts of Bujumbura. Ntawembarira said two civilians there had reportedly been killed.

[ENDS]



This material comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2004



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