Burundi's public universities suspend breakfast over money

2016-02-02 08:57


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Bujumbura - Students attending Burundi's public universities are going without breakfast because the government can no longer afford it, underscoring the fragile state of Burundi's economy amid violent unrest.

On Monday, some students at the University of Burundi wore black clothes to protest the measure, which suggests the government is struggling to finance its budget and is cutting some costs.

Many students told The Associated Press they feel the suspension of breakfast, which went into effect on Monday, is an injustice and may affect their performance in class.

"It is very difficult to follow courses when you have not eaten in the morning because we need glucose to do exercises," said Alexandre Niyukuri, a sophomore studying physical education.

More than 50% of Burundi's budget is financed by foreign donors, some of whom President Pierre Nkurunziza's government has alienated with its violent suppression of the opposition. Some donors, like former colonizer Belgium, have cut financial support.

As violence persists, many businesses have had to shut down, severely reducing the government's sources of tax revenue.

Nkurunziza's announcement last April that he would run for a third term sparked months of violent street protests that later boiled over into an attempted coup.

The crisis has escalated since the re-election in July of Nkurunziza, with hundreds of people killed in a wave of extrajudicial killings as well as gun and grenade attacks as supporters and opponents of the regime target each other.

More than 430 people have been killed since April 2015, and the total number of Burundian refugees has increased to 239 754, according to the UN.

New patterns of human rights violations have emerged, including cases of sexual violence, increased enforced disappearances and torture, the UN humanitarian office reported on Monday.

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