Thursday, 2 August 2012

Why is US giving $13.1m military aid to Burundi?

The US is handing out money again. Not, of course, for development. Over $82m to six African countries for "counter-terrorism assistance". (H/T @laurenist)

Half is for Uganda. To fight Kony. Where-ever he happens to be. The less said about Uganda looting neighbouring countries, supporting rebels and all-around destabilising central Africa on the US's dime, the better, I suppose. Most of the rest goes to Horn of Africa countries to fight al-Shabab.

But the really interesting bit is the $13.1 million given by the USA to Burundi.  Burundi is a tiny country that recently had a 15-year civil war. There are still refugees in Tanzania (although not for long).  In September 2011, 40 people were killed in a bar bombing near the DRC border. The rebel leader thought to be responsible - who left the army in protest over alleged-2010-election-rigging - was later killed in the DRC and his body handed over to Burundi forces. Last December, 43 members of the opposition were arrested for unspecified "acts of terrorism" and fighting was reported between security forces and new rebel groups on the border with Tanzania. Another rebel leader was executed in June. There are also serious questions about the accountability of the government.

Burundi's population is 8.5m; that's more than a dollar per person of military assistance.What kind of counter-terrorism activities, exactly, the US money is funding?

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