Burundi – Following a similar move by the US last year, the EU said on Tuesday that it would resume providing financial aid to Burundi, drawing outrage from government critics. The EU said in a statement that today’s decision to lift restrictions is the outcome of a peaceful democratic process that began with the general elections in May 2020 and has opened a new window of hope for the Burundi people.
The European Union, Burundi’s biggest aid donor at the time, suspended all direct financing to the government in 2016 after the administration ignored human rights and failed to stop a wave of deadly violence. People in Burundi were angry when then-President Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term, which they said was illegal.
The EU’s decision came after a November decision by the US, which praised elections, a decrease in violence, and President Evariste Ndayishimiye’s reforms. The EU stated in its statement that “persisting challenges in the areas of human rights, good governance, reconciliation, and the rule of law” remain. Thanks to the 27 countries that make up the European Union, Burundi’s Foreign Minister, Albert Shingiro, thanked them for lifting the rules.
On Twitter, he described it as “an ingredient for rebuilding our bilateral ties.” NGOs supported the decision, but on the other hand, condemned it, claiming that nothing had changed to justify the move. “The US and EU may believe that doing so will spur reform, but it is more likely to embolden human rights violators who already operate with near-total impunity,” said Mausi Segun, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
The US decision came barely two months after a UN Commission of Inquiry found that the central African country’s human rights situation had “deteriorated” after Ndayishimiye seized control in June 2020. The United Nations stated in September that “members of opposition parties continue to be subjected to abusive restrictions and grave human rights violations like disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and torture.”
The EU used to be the biggest donor to the former Belgian colony, according to the EU Observer, a Brussels-based news website. The EU used to pay out around 60 million euros every year.