Bujumbura, where these children live, is the troubled capital of Burundi, a small nation struggling to develop. (Photo by franca.mente-Flickr.com/Creative Commons 2.0)
TWR’s area director for East Africa has fled his home in Burundi as unrest spreads in this African nation of about 10 million people.
Egide Bandyatuyaga reported by email that he and his wife and three children had time only to pack a few clothes before leaving their home in the capital of Bujumbura to seek safety.
“I had hoped that today would be better than yesterday, but this morning we woke up with barricades less than 20 meters from my gate,” he wrote Monday, May 11, 2015. “My street had so far been quiet but things were different this morning. What made me more afraid is that even close neighbors have joined and are now burning car tires right at our sight. … I thank God that we made it safely.”
News reports estimate that 19 people have been killed in the violence stemming from protests against the president’s quest for a third term. Belgium, the former colonial ruler of Burundi, announced that it has suspended some aid, intended to support the elections, as conditions deteriorate. Long-running hostilities between the two largest ethnic groups in Burundi and neighboring Rwanda have more than once led to genocide and left hundreds of thousands dead.
The director and staff of TWR Burundi are believed to be safe, the communications manager of TWR’s African Regional Office reported. The foundation for TWR’s national partner in Burundi was laid in 1988. Today Good News for All, Jesus Is the Answer and many other programs are broadcast in the languages of Kirundi, French, Swahili, Kinyarwanda from local FM stations and TWR’s shortwave transmitter in Swaziland.
Bandyatuyaga thanked his Christian brothers and sisters in Africa and abroad for standing with Burundi believers in prayer. TWR International President Lauren Libby on Monday urged the worldwide staff to keep praying for Bandyatuyaga and his family.
- Pray for the safety and fortitude of the Bandyatuyaga family amid the unrest.
- Pray for National Director Rachel Muhorakeye and the staff of TWR Burundi – along with their families – as they minister to this troubled nation.
- Pray that the leaders and political factions of Burundi will achieve understanding that can defuse the dangerous tension.