Burundi Armed Violence Assessment

Country-level research is essential to enhance understanding of the types, scale, and distribution of armed violence and its negative impact on development.

In 2008, more than 1,000 people were killed and nearly 1,300 injured by armed violence in Burundi. The country’s homicide rate is relatively high compared to the global average: 12.3 per 100,000 inhabitants. A 2008 Geneva Declaration report on Burundi (‘Insecurity is also a War': An Assessment of Armed Violence in Burundi) finds that young men are the principle victims of armed violence in the country. Women are more often affected by sexual violence, which has reached worrying levels in Burundi. Nearly 15 per cent of rapes are reportedly committed under the threat of a weapon.

Burundi features various types of armed violence common in other post-conflict countries. The most common form is linked to banditry, while other forms are related to land disputes, domestic violence, former rebels, and police blunders. The provinces most affected by armed violence are the capital Bujumbura-Mairie, Bubanza, and Bujumbura Rural. Contrary to findings in other African countries, armed violence in Burundi takes place mainly at night inside victims' homes. In 2008, firearms were used in almost 60 per cent of acts of armed violence, while grenades were used in 22 per cent of cases, an unusually high rate.

The report relies mainly on a survey of 1,500 households in six provinces, which was supplemented with other methodological tools, such as hospital, crime, and media records. Since 2005—the year of the first survey administered by the Small Arms Survey—perceptions of security have evolved and a certain number of positive changes have been observed. For example, more people now see weapons as a source of danger rather than a means of protection. Likewise, people remain willing to take part in a voluntary disarmament programme. But while the population broadly supports civilian disarmament, the effective provision of legitimate public security constitutes a prerequisite to broad participation in such a programme. The report highlights priority areas for action, such as increasing the capacity to provide security and administer justice, reducing the vulnerability of populations at risk, and setting up a civilian disarmament programme.

The study was carried out in cooperation with the Burundian National Commission for Civilian Disarmament and Prevention of Weapons Proliferation (CDCPA) and the non-governmental organization Ligue Iteka, with the support of the UN Development Programme and the Swiss and British governments.