Burundi is now regarded as a peacekeeping success. Burundi has offered to return the favor and send peacekeepers to Somalia. However, the situation in Burundi remains precarious. Once of the reasons for the fragility
is a looming food crisis. December 2006 was marked by heavy rains. In fact, the last two growing seasons have experienced very heavy rainfall and destroyed many crops. The price of sweet potatoes (an important food source) has risen over 40 percent since the beginning of 2007. Rain isn't the only problem. The long war
limited the farmers' ability to take care of the land and in many places soil
(which to begin with is often thin in jungle regions) has been depleted. The
government's concern is that a food crisis could lead to renewed fighting.
March 5, 2007: The Rwandan government announced that plans on creating "one of
the best air forces on the continent." (ie, Africa). The aircraft would be used
to support Rwandan forces engaged in peacekeeping efforts. This suggests Rwandan intends to acquire transport aircraft and transport helicopters. At the moment
Rwanda relies on the United States to airlift its troops and police security
forces to Darfur. A Rwandan spokesman said that Rwandan does not want to be
"dependent" on its "partners" for transportation.
March 3, 2007: Now Burundi is offering to send peacekeepers to Somalia.
Responding to an African Union (AU) request for peacekeepers, Burundi said that it could send up to 1,700 soldiers to Somalia. Burundi's defense ministry says
that its troops have experienced and "technically" (ie, tactically) ready.
However, they have equipment problems. The troops are basically light infantry
and lack heavy weapons. They also lack support equipment. It is likely that they will need engineering and medical equipment. Burundi already has 50 troops and
policemen serving in Sudan's troubled Darfur region. There is a reason for
maintaining a foreign peacekeeping force in Burundi, while sending Burundian
soldiers on other peacekeeping missions. The peacekeeping training helps
professionalize the Burundian military. The troops are also paid in hard
currency. Finally, it gives the Burundian military something to do besides fight
March 2, 2007: Rwanda reported that two "bombs" (most likely artillery or mortar
rounds) fired from the Congo ((DRC) landed inside Rwanda. The Rwandan military
claimed that Hutu Interahamwe rebels were operating in the border area (Rubavu
February 27, 2007: South Africa said that it will keep 1,100 troops in Burundi
as part of the African Union's (AU) "special task force" for Burundi. South
Africa is engaged helping negotiations between the Burundian government and the
last rebel organization that has not signed the Arusha Accord (Burundi peace
agreement). That organization is the Palipehutu-FNL.