by Karen Hatungimana
From right to left: Julie (Country Director) - Didier (Technical Operations Manager) - Lydie (Data Officer) - Cynthia (Logistics Officer) - Vincent (Technical Field Manager) - Me! - Peggy (Finance & HR Officer) - Jean-Marie (Driver) - Christian (Logistics Assistant)
It was very unlikely that when finishing my studies I would have ended up working so closely with weapons without the set of circumstances that allowed me to cross paths with MAG Burundi. During these last few months working as an intern with MAG, I discovered the reality of a problem nobody is sufficiently aware of: the danger of unsecured weapons and ammunition stocks. I realised how necessary and urgent it is to secure the national depots, and even more so after the explosion that happened in Congo-Brazzaville. A similar one here in Bujumbura could easily cost the lives of thousands.
MAG is currently pursuing these essential activities in Burundi. How frustrating would it be, to have to leave the country with half of the army armouries and ammunition depots not yet secured? MAG has gained the confidence of the national authorities; they trust the organisation, and keep requesting its support. Yet funding is required to complete the project and so fundraising with institutional donors has been one of my main tasks over the last few months to prevent the programme from closing down this summer.
Weapon leakages are reported, feeding the black market and armed criminality; and the risk of deadly explosions cannot be ignored in a country where depots are situated in the middle of densely populated areas. Burundi is recovering from a terrible and lengthy civil war, and doesn’t need more armed violence or traumatic events such as an ammunition blast. I have learnt a lot, professionally and personally, from the determination the whole team has to secure the safety of the Burundian people and the best possible future for The Great Lakes Region.
Soon to hand-over my laptop and office, I wish to thank the whole MAG team in Burundi for its hard work and commitment to its tasks; never lacking in smiles and good moods!
I wish all the best to MAG in the future, hoping it continues its actions worldwide, which are essential and definitely prevent disasters and save lives, allowing people to plan and build their futures in a safer environment!