Burundi, reopening of MEO Centre after political unrest

Date 25.06.2015

The educational centre MEO closed due to the impossibility of ensuring the safety of workers and children. "At the moment, there is a slight recovery of the assets. The situation in the country continues to be tense and uncertain, but it is a great sign of hope for the entire population" chief of AVSI Burundi Monica Treu said.

In a country which is still in recovery from civil war and in a region where ethnic tensions and genocide have threatened peaceful development for decades, Burundi is still facing political and social unrest which caused death and instability.

The crisis was provoked at the beginning of June by President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term, despite the constitutional limit of two presidential terms. The population reacted in different ways, with thousands of people fleeing towards neighboring countries, namely Tanzania, and others taking to the streets of Bujumbura, the capital, in protest. The refugee situation is dramatic and risks to explode into a humanitarian crisis.

AVSI has been present and active in Burundi since 2001. AVSI's Country Representative in Burundi, Monica Treu, reports that virtually everything has come to a standstill and people have been forced to remain closed up in their homes out of fear of the violence on the streets of Bujumbura and surrounding neighborhoods. The streams of refugees are visibly in grave need of assistance and face an uncertain, harsh future as they seek safe harbor in neighboring countries.

The education and nutritional center established in 2001 and supported by AVSI, “Maman Enfants Orphelin” (MEO)is in the Cibitoke neighborhood of Bujumbura and serves as an important point of reference for hundreds of the most vulnerable children and families coming from the poorest areas of the city. AVSI's methodology consists of holistic support for chidlren and their families, including health and nutrition, psychosocial support, recreation and education.

During the closure, Monica and her staff did their best to keep track of their local staff and volunteers and the hundreds of children entrusted to their care, providing whatever support they can.

In such an environment of fear and uncertainty, we are sure to see with time the fruit of the work over the past 15 years to enhance the internal resiliency of the children, families and communities within the web of AVSI's relationships.

To see more about the Centro Meo and AVSI's method of work: