Burundi youths paint red marks on homes to target, say refugees - TRFN

Fri May 8, 2015 5:01pm GMT

By Emma Batha

LONDON, May 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Refugees fleeing escalating violence in Burundi say members of the ruling party's youth wing are painting red marks on the homes of people to be targeted, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday.

There are also reports of people selling their properties before leaving the country, possibly indicating that they expect prolonged insecurity, UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards added.

More than 50,000 Burundians - mostly women and children - have fled to neighbouring countries in recent weeks amid violent protests triggered by President Pierre Nkurunziza's plan to run for a third term.

Opponents say the move violates the constitution and a peace deal that ended Burundi's ethnically-charged civil war in 2005.

The violence has plunged the small central African country into its worst crisis since the 12-year war, which pitted rebels from the ethnic Hutu majority against the then Tutsi-led army and killed about 300,000 people.

Edwards said refugees arriving in Rwanda had spoken of harassment and intimidation by members of the Imbonerakure youth wing "who paint red marks on homes of people to be targeted".

"Some decided to leave as a precautionary measure, having experienced previous cycles of violence," he told a briefing in Geneva.

The ruling CNDD-FDD party denies charges that its youth wing is armed and trying to stir violence. It says its opponents are the ones trying to stoke tensions.   Continued...

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