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bluemouse33

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Despite apparently positive steps made
recently to pacify the Burundian conflict which has dragged on for
over a decade, in mid-July fighting suddenly flared up in the
southern parts of the capital Bujumbura with rebels of the National
Liberation Forces (FNL) shelling the city. Amnesty International
condemned what it calls grave violations against fundamental human
rights committed by both the government forces and the armed rebels
during the fighting. According to Amnesty, unless preventive
measures were taken immediately, the governmental troops would
likely take indiscriminate reprisals against the civilian population
suspected of actively supporting the rebels or being their
accomplices.

The main theatre of war and the
surrounding rural districts are precisely where JRS (Jesuit Refugee
Service)
operates its AIDS Project. During June and July, a theology student
at Hekima College (Nairobi), Niku Ekom SJ from Nigeria, had his
placement in Pastoral Field Work in Bujumbura. Serving as
acting-director of the AIDS Programme, Niku bravely turned down the
chance to be evacuated with other international staff. Instead,
during the 7-13 July shelling of the capital, he stayed to suspend
the activities of the AIDS Project temporarily and free the dozen
AIDS workers to help thousands of inhabitants who fled the outskirts
for the city centre. Visiting the National Museum (Musée Vivant)
where some 2000 displaced took refuge, the AIDS team helped to draw
up lists of the displaced and distributed supplies to the places of
refuge. They visited AIDS patients in the city hospitals, but
remained even more concerned for the survival of the very ill
AIDS-sufferers who were too weak to flee the fighting.

As soon as calm began to return, the JRS
AIDS Project resumed its usual activities with visits
to the communities, monthly meetings, promoting prevention and
testing and facilitating care for the infected.

09_Czerny_B-XVI_FRA
AJANews no. 6 (May 2003)

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