Burundi Shrugs Off EU Suspension of Direct Aid Over Crisis

Burundi’s government said a European Union suspension of financial support won’t have a serious effect on the country, where an 11-month political crisis has left more than 440 people dead.

The EU on Monday said it was freezing some aid, including budget support, to the East African nation until the government backs a multi-party dialogue overseen by regional mediators. Burundi has been rocked by unrest since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided in April to stand for a third term in the face of popular opposition.

“Burundi will survive this decision,” Foreign Minister Alain Aime Nyamitwe told reporters Tuesday in the capital, Bujumbura. “We will learn to live within the existing means and collaborate with new partners,” he said, without specifying who those would be.

The EU’s decision freezes 322 million euros ($357 million) of support, Patrick Spirlet, the bloc’s ambassador to the country, told reporters on Tuesday. Aid to the population and displaced people won’t be affected, he said.

The United Nations has warned the country risks sliding back into a civil conflict that could spill over into a region that includes the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa’s biggest copper producer. More than a quarter of a million people have fled Burundi over the past year, with about half of them seeking shelter in neighboring Tanzania, according to the UN.

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