Burundi: Fact Sheet
- Population: 6.6 million
- Government armed forces: 50,500
- Child soldiers: 5,000
- 13 years of civil war
- Forces Nationales pour la Libération, FNL - National Liberation forces is the only group that continues to use child soldiers in mass numbers in order to purse civil conflict
- Gardiens de la paix (Peace Guards) - the name given to Burundi armed forces
- Hundreds of former child soldiers are being detained by the Burundi government with an unclear status, preventing any rehabilitation
- Armed political groups participating in rehabilitation continue to recruit child soldiers
- 3,000 child soldiers serving in “Peace Guards” have been demobilized
- The Convention on the Rights of Children requires the Burundi government to protect children from violations of all international laws
- The UN is urging Burundi's government to provide for the demobilization and rehabilitation of all former child soldiers
Burundi's Current Conflict
From 1964 to 1993, Burundi was ruled by military dictators who were responsible for killing thousands of civilians through ethnic conflicts. These years even saw the Burundian genocide of 1972, in which 600,000 Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups were killed without any regret. After the elections of 1993, Melchior Ndadaye, the first democratic president, was elected. Civil strife seemed to quell for a few months, until the Tutsi army officers assassinated him. A ravaging and destructive civil war ensued in which the country was once against thrown into shambles of ethnic conflict. The civil conflict continued as the faction group FNL attempted to take over the government. In 2006, the government forces and FNL signed a ceasefire that put an official end to the civil war. Ironically, the violence rose to higher levels, as the ceasefire quickly broke down. The country is currently on the verge of breaking down.
Burundi's Use of Child Soldiers
During the long and arduous years of civil war, children were continuously recruited and used as soldiers by all sides of the conflict. By 2006, all but one major armed political group have signed peace agreements and have vouched to end the use of child soldiers. The faction group FNL currently employs the use of approximately 5,000 child soldiers for various duties and jobs. Dozens of children who served for the FNL have now been captured by government forces. Even though there is international pressure to release the children in demobilization efforts, the legal status of “unclear” has made it almost impossible to change the status of these child soldiers. These child soldiers previously worked for the FNL at military posts as guards, spies, and guides.
- "A Long Way from Home." Human Rights Watch. June 2006. 18 March 2007 <http://hrw.org/backgrounder/africa/burundi0606/>.
- "Burundi." Child Soldiers Global Report 2004. 2004. 4 April 2007 <http://www.child-soldiers.org/document_get.php?id=761>.
- "Burundi." Wikipedia. 1 April 2007. 4 April 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burundi>.