On Wednesday, October 10, three employees of a non-governmental organization (NGO) were arrested while at work in Muyinga for violating the countrywide ban on NGO operations issued October 1. Burundian police are reportedly subjecting the workers to questioning.
The arrests are likely intended as a warning to NGOs that continue to operate in the country following the October 1 ban. Additional similar arrests are possible in Burundi in the near-term.
On October 2, the Burundian government, following a National Security Council decision, ordered the majority of international NGOs operating in the country to cease operations for three months. The move reportedly seeks to force NGOs to comply with a law passed in January 2017 that imposes an ethnic quota for NGO workers - 60 percent Hutu and 40 percent Tutsi - and financial regulations. Only four out of the 130 NGOs present in the country have complied with the new measure as of mid-October. The suspension may extend beyond the three-month period if the NGOs continue to fail to comply with the law. The Burundian government has also hinted that noncompliant NGOs will be permanently banned from the country.
This move is likely to further increase the country's international isolation and deepen its economic difficulties, as the 130 NGOs are a major source of employment and, above all, constitute the main bodies through which almost all of Burundi's foreign aid is channeled. In addition, the suspension may have negative consequences on business, agricultural, and banking activities.
Individuals present in Burundi are advised to monitor the situation and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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