Whether through civil war or other forms of conflict, natural disasters or climate related disasters such as drought, the global scale of displaced people is unprecedented. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there are now over 60 million forcibly displaced people around the world including 19.5 million refugees -- the highest number on record!
Over the following months in 2001, the violence continued in Burundi between the rebels and the government. My passion for my work diminished. I no longer felt like doing anything. I even stopped watching the news on TV, or even listening to it on my own radio station. Everything looked hopeless. In 2002, some Canadian journalists visited Burundi. If I were going to ask for help, it was now or never. Six months later, they invited me to visit Canada, and I jumped on the opportunity. I arrived in Canada with $60 in my pocket -- my mother's life savings.
Then there is the matter of political competition for higher office. There is no such a thing in Rwanda. Members of genuine opposition are either in prison, exile or mysteriously die in and outside Rwanda. Leader of the Unified Democratic Forces party, Victoire Ingabire, who was barred from running for presidency in 2010 is in prison.
This April marks the 20th commemoration of the genocide in Rwanda -- where we both trace our roots. As we take time this month to remember the events of 1994, honour the lives lost, and reaffirm our commitment to never again stand by and let another genocide take place, a troubling situation is unfolding in Burundi that appears frighteningly reminiscent of Rwanda pre-1994.
The world has reached the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of cutting by half the number of people without access to safe drinking water, five years ahead of the 2015 deadline. While that is good news, millions of people, for instance, still live without a toilet. Not a very sexy topic -- but one which is of great concern if the world is to meet goals on reducing under-five mortality.