The Aftermath of the ‘Dumb’ Rebels

A 5-day war broke out in Murwi and Bukinanyana communes in Cibitoke province three weeks ago. The national army reported that more than 95 rebels were killed. Some of the corpses are still at the site while others are badly buried. The population is scared that they may catch infectious diseases.-By J. Berchmans Siboniyo

  One of the bodies of rebels killed at Bambo mountain ©Iwacu

One of the bodies of rebels killed at Bambo mountain ©Iwacu

We are at Bambo Mountain, Rwesero hill, Murwi commune, Cibitoke Province. The smellof the nature changes.Green and black is the look of the mountain. Why? Herbs are pushing through the scarred ground after the mountain was burned by bombs during the war opposing armed people ‘from DRC’ and the Burundi national forces. A small space of a different color is observed at least 150 meters from the house of Lazarus, the businessman whose beer was drunk by the rebels before they were annihilated by the national forces. It is a tomb of one of the rebels killed during the fight. The legs are outside the tomb, the bones of the lower legs not covered by any flesh below the knees. From the knee up a thick, rotting flesh is giving off a putrid smell. The elbow of the left arm is also outside the grave. The body is covered by herbs uprooted with the soil and the stones.

“Our hearts are full of fear. We smell the odor of rotten flesh of killed people.We will catch contagious diseases”, sadly says H.J., an inhabitant of Rwesero. The local population warns that the whole country may be affected by the diseases since local people use the herbs in the area where the bodies lie, to make banana juice.The population also warns thatmany other bodies are still lying in the water sources, in the valleys where people fetch water and grow crops in Murwi and Bukinanyana communes.
“We beg the government to do all that is possible to bury these corpses. We don’t even have any appetite because of the bodies’ bad smell. We will also catch contagious diseases”, says another resident of Rwesero.

Dr. Richard Karayuba, a surgeon at Roi Khaled hospital and a lecturer at the University of Burundi affirms the worries of the population. He indicates that a dead body is a source of many contagious diseases. He explains the situation is very dangeroussince flies that have been in contact with the dead body can also contaminate utensils or food in the houses in the vicinity.
Asked about what to be done, the sanitary district of Cibitoke responded to Bonesha FM that they are going to buy products to spray the bodies, without specifying the exact time.

Alexis Nsavyimana, the Secretary of the Red Cross in Cibitoke province indicates that they can help only if the local administration asks for a help. “We cannot meddle in the government’s affairs. Otherwise we can be subject to interrogations on how many people there were, how they were killed, where they were killed, why we buried them without the administration’s permission and other questions”, he says. He indicates that the Red Cross is ready to help whenever the government asks for it.

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