Nazi hunter fears for Burundi

2016-01-12 05:19
Beate Klarsfeld. (Bertrand Guay, AFP)

Beate Klarsfeld. (Bertrand Guay, AFP)

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Nairobi - German Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld said on Monday she fears "the worst" for Burundi if "massacres" linked to the political crisis in the strife-torn African country continue.

"The political crisis that Burundi is going through could degenerate into a humanitarian catastrophe," Klarsfeld, who is a special envoy for the UN cultural body Unesco, said in a statement as she arrived in the Burundian capital Bujumbura.

"The massacres that have been perpetrated in 2015 portend the worst," she said.

Her schedule has not been announced, but she had said she would travel to "Burundi, a country whose population has already suffered civil wars, in order to primarily launch an anguished appeal for respect of human life."

Klarsfeld appealed to the country's young people "to make the choice for peace and dialogue so that there is no repeat of the horrors of the past that Burundi has already suffered," she said in the statement, issued in French and received in Nairobi.

Klarsfeld called for a resumption of peace talks "to allow reconciliation, national unity and to put an end as soon as possible to blind killings, targeted assassinations, coups and the multiplication of crimes of an ethnic character."

The small central African country descended into bloodshed in April when Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a controversial third term in a July election that he went on to win.

Ugandan-mediated peace talks that had been scheduled to resume last week have been suspended, and Bujumbura has rejected a proposed 5 000-strong African Union force to halt the violence.

The country is still recovering from an ethnically-charged civil war between majority Hutus and minority Tutsis, which cost an estimated 300 000 lives between 1993 and 2006.

Klarsfeld, 76, has tracked down a number of Nazi war criminals with her French lawyer husband Serge.

In one of their most high-profile cases, the Klarsfelds found the notorious Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie in the early 1970s.

In October, Serge and Beate Klarsfeld were named as Unesco Honorary Ambassadors and Special Envoys for Education about the Holocaust and the Prevention of Genocide.

Read more on:    unesco  |  pierre nkurunziza  |  burundi  |  east africa
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