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EU to pull staff and families out of Burundi as violence escalates

The European Union has announced it will pull all non-essential staff from Burundi as violence sweeps the country. The move comes as the UN mulls the possibility of deploying peacekeepers there.

The EU said Friday it was evacuating most of its staff in the East African nation, as fears of a Rwanda-style humanitarian catastrophe continue to grow.

All family members and non-essential personnel are expected to leave the country, although the EU will maintain it presence there, officials said.

Belgium, Burundi's former colonial power, also urged its citizens to leave the country and to avoid travelling there.

A country on the brink

On Thursday, the UN Security Council

approved a draft resolution

condemning the violence in Burundi and requesting a team of peacekeepers to be deployed there.

The violence has been ongoing since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a third term in a move many said was a violation of the country's constitution. His election was followed by an unsuccessful coup attempt, which in turn has led to a crackdown by government forces against the president's opposition.

Over 250 people have died in the ensuing violence, while some 200,000 people have fled. Because the country is made up of disproportionate ethnic groups, including the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority, some fear a repeat of the brutal Rwandan Civil War that led to a genocidal slaughter of as many as one million people.

blc/kms (dpa, AFP)

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