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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                           

Republic of Burundi

Burundi is a landlocked, resource-poor country with an underdeveloped manufacturing sector. The economy is predominantly agricultural with more than 90% of the population dependent on subsistence agriculture.

An ethnic-based war that lasted for over a decade resulted in more than 200,000 deaths, forced more than 48,000 refugees into Tanzania, and displaced 140,000 others internally. Only one in two children go to school, and approximately one in 15 adults has HIV/AIDS. Food, medicine, and electricity remain in short supply.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Description: Burundi

Burundi is a source country for children trafficked for the purposes of child soldiering, domestic servitude, and commercial sexual exploitation.

Human trafficking of Burundian adults and children with albinism to Tanzania for the forcible removal of body parts may occur; so-called Tanzanian traditional healers seek various body parts of persons with albinism for traditional medical concoctions commonly purchased to heal illness, foster economic advancement, or hurt enemies.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out the later country report here or a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Burundi.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to verify their authenticity or to validate their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include possible precursors of trafficking such as poverty. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Burundian's ordeal in Lebanon

BBC News, 27 June 2007

[accessed 25 January 2011]

Burundi's courts are investigating the alleged trafficking of young Burundian girls and women. Magistrate Arcade Niyongabo has told the BBC many of them think they are seeking asylum in Europe, but end up working as gardeners, maids or prostitutes in Lebanon.

First of all they refused to pay me the amount we had agreed before I left.  When we arrived home, my boss told me I would be paid $50 a month whilst before I left we agreed I would be paid $100.  After three months, I asked for my payments so that I could send money to my brothers and sisters.  My boss gave me only $150. I complained I should be given $300. She said I was being paid $50 a month.

We went through lots of ordeals.  The husband or son of the lady I worked for would often rape me. And there was no way you could complain: I felt they would not hesitate to kill me.  You just kept quiet. We were often beaten and tortured. They chose food for us, they would decide the clothes that we would put on, but being beaten was the most common practice.  There was little difference between prostitution and working as a maid because even when you chose house work, you would often be raped there.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Burundi

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 13 May 2021]


Children and young adults were coerced into forced labor on plantations or small farms in the south, small-scale menial labor in gold mines, carrying river stones for construction in Bujumbura, work aboard fishing vessels, or engaging in informal commerce in the streets of larger cities (see section 7.c.). Forced labor also occurred in domestic service and charcoal production.

Citizens were required to participate in community work each Saturday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Although enforcement of this requirement was rare, there were sporadic reports that communal administrators fined residents who failed to participate, and members of the Imbonerakure or police sometimes harassed or intimidated individuals who did not participate.


In rural areas children younger than 16 were often responsible for contributing to their families’ and their own subsistence and were regularly employed in heavy manual labor during the day, including during the school year, especially in agriculture. Children working in agriculture could be forced to carry heavy loads and use machines and tools that could be dangerous. They also herded cattle and goats, which exposed them to harsh weather conditions and forced them to work with large or dangerous animals. Many children worked in the informal sector, such as in family businesses, selling in the streets, and working in small local brickworks. There were instances of children being employed as beggars, including forced begging by children with disabilities. The September COI report also cited forced recruitment into the Imbonerakure or, in the case of younger children, into the CNDD-FDD “Little Eagles.”

In urban areas, child domestic workers were prevalent, accounting for more than 40 percent of the 13- to 15-year-old children in the country, according to a government survey from 2013-14. Reports indicated that an increased number of children from the Twa ethnic group were being transported from rural areas to Bujumbura with promises of work and subsequently were exploited. Child domestic workers were often isolated from the public. Some were only housed and fed instead of being paid for their work. Some employers, who did not pay the salaries of children they employed as domestic servants, accused them of stealing, and children were sometimes imprisoned on false charges. Child domestic workers could be forced to work long hours, some employers exploited them sexually, and girls were disproportionately impacted.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 24 April 2020]


Sexual and domestic violence are serious problems but are rarely reported to law enforcement agencies. Rights monitors continue to report sexual violence carried out by security forces and Imbonerakure, who act with impunity. Women are often targeted for rape if they or their spouses refuse to join the CNDD–FDD, and men sometimes experience sexual abuse while in government custody.


Individuals not allied with the ruling party may lose their employment. Community service requirements have taken on political overtones, such as building offices for the CNDD–FDD, amounting to what the 2019 UN report called forced labor.

Women have limited opportunities for advancement in the workplace. Much of the population is impoverished. In 2017, “vagrancy” and begging by able-bodied persons became formal offenses under the penal code. The ongoing political and humanitarian crisis has contributed to an economic decline, less access to basic services, and deteriorating living conditions.

The government has conducted some trainings for government officials on handling cases of human trafficking. However, the government has largely failed to prevent domestic human trafficking, to protect victims, and to prosecute perpetrators.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 15 April 2019]

[accessed 24 April 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 228]

Children in Burundi engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in commercial sexual exploitation. Children also perform dangerous tasks in agriculture. (1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8)

Burundian children are trafficked within the country, often from rural areas, for domestic work and commercial sexual exploitation. (2; 3; 4; 17) Women who offer room and board to children sometimes force the children into commercial sexual exploitation to pay expenses; these brothels are found in the more impoverished parts of Bujumbura, near Lake Tanganyika, along trucking corridors, and in other cities such as Gitega, Ngozi, and Rumonge. (2; 3; 19) Burundian girls are also trafficked internationally for commercial sexual exploitation in Kenya, the Middle East, Rwanda, and Uganda. (20; 21; 22; 12; 19) Evidence also suggests that children are trafficked to Tanzania for work in agriculture and forced labor. (17; 23; 12)

Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with over 90 percent of its citizens engaged in subsistence agriculture. (24) In Burundi, research indicates that children perform dangerous tasks in agriculture in the production of tea, coffee, sugarcane, cotton, palm oil, peat, potatoes, and rice. (1; 5; 7; 8; 11; 12) In 2017, there were no reports of new recruitment of child soldiers in Burundi. (12; 25).

Diverse Human Trafficking Trends in East African Region Highlights Urgent Need for Greater Protection

International Organization for Migration IOM, 12-10-2010

[accessed 18 January 2016]

In Tanzania, IOM found evidence of child trafficking from Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda for sexual exploitation, fishing, domestic servitude and agricultural labour.

Adult victims were identified in the domestic sector, as well as the mining, agricultural and hospitality industries.

Migration body to monitor human trafficking impact

[access information unavailable]

"Many girls are taken from Iringa and brought to major cities to work as housegirls but they end up being subjected to prostitution and other works which they did not expect, this is internal trafficking," she said.

Many young boys, she said, are taken to work in the mining companies, something which not only denies their rights but also are psychosocially affected.

The Protection Project - Burundi

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[Last accessed 2009]

[accessed 13 February 2019]

A Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Women and girls are trafficked to European cities and to South Africa for prostitution. The number of children trafficked from Burundi to the United Kingdom has increased in recent years. Parents often pay significant sums to send their children to the United Kingdom, believing that their children will have a better life there. On arriving, however, girls from African countries are threatened with voodoo curses to make them think that if they tell anyone about the traffickers, they and their families will die. They are told that the only way to remove the curse is to repay the money they owe to the traffickers, which is usually about UK£25,000.

Child Soldier Use 2003 - A Briefing for the 4th UN Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, January 2004

[accessed 25 January 2011]

GOVERNMENT FORCES - The government of Burundi recognized the existence of child soldiers within its ranks and made international commitments to stop recruitment and promote demobilization. Child soldiers continued to be used by the Burundian armed forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

NON-STATE ARMED GROUPS - Child recruitment by armed opposition groups escalated during the year because of increased instability brought about by the change in government.

The main Hutu-dominated armed political group, the CNDD-FDD (Nkurunziza faction), which has rear bases in eastern DRC, reportedly continued to recruit and abduct children, including from schools and from refugee camps in neighbouring Tanzania. Children as young as eight were recruited, sometimes forcibly.

Travel advice by country - Country Profiles: Burundi

Foreign & Commonwealth Office, 15 July 2008

[accessed 25 January 2011]

[scroll down]

HUMAN RIGHTS - The human rights situation in Burundi remains poor, with widespread abuses committed by all parties, particularly in the rural areas surrounding the capital. Tens of thousands of people remain internally displaced. Killing of civilians, reprisal killings, torture, rape, theft, illegal and arbitrary detention, and forced labour have been reported. Rape and gang rape against women, girls and boys is on the increase. The judicial system has little capacity to act in timely and impartial manner, and impunity is pervasive. The indigenous Twa (Pygmy) people remain marginalised economically, socially, and politically.

History of Burundi

Gascoigne, Bamber. “History of BurundiHistoryWorld. From 2001, ongoing

[accessed 25 January 2011]

The immediate effect of the attempted coup is the flight abroad of Mwambutsa, leaving his 18-year-old younger son in Burundi. In July 1966 the prince deposes his absent father and takes the crown. But before the end of the year he too has been deposed by his prime minister, Michel Micombero.

A republic is proclaimed, and it is one in which the Tutsi are now unmistakably in power. The subsequent decades reveal that it is a power which they wield with ruthless brutality. The worst blot on Burundi's record is the ethnic slaughter unleashed upon the Hutu community in April and May 1972, in response to an attempted uprising. At least 100,000 people are killed, among them nearly all Hutus of the professional or educated class.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 October 2000

[accessed 25 January 2011]

[71] The Committee is concerned about the participation of children in the State party's armed forces, either as soldiers, or as helpers in camps or in the obtaining of information. The Committee is also concerned about reports of widespread recruitment of children by opposition armed forces. The Committee is further concerned at reports of sexual exploitation of children by members of the armed forces. The Committee is deeply concerned about violations of the provisions of international humanitarian law relating to the treatment of civilians in armed conflict.

Human Rights Overview by Human Rights Watch – Defending Human Rights Worldwide

[accessed 25 January 2011]


2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 20 April 2018

[accessed 18 March 2019]

[accessed 25 June 2019]


The law prohibits most forms of forced or compulsory labor, including by children. The government did not effectively enforce applicable laws. Resources for inspections and remediation were inadequate, and the penal code did not specify penalties. Workplace inspectors had authority to impose fines at their own discretion.

Children and young adults were coerced into forced labor on plantations or small farms in the south, small-scale menial labor in mines, carrying river stones for construction in Bujumbura, or engaging in informal commerce in the streets of larger cities.


In urban areas child domestic servants were often isolated from the public. Some were only housed and fed instead of being paid for their work. Some employers who did not pay the salaries of children they employed as domestic servants accused them of stealing, and children were sometimes imprisoned on false charges. Child domestic workers could be forced to work long hours, some employers exploited them sexually, and girls were disproportionately impacted.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 7 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The Ministry for National Solidarity, Human Rights, and Gender was responsible for combating trafficking.

During the year Burundi was a source and transit country for children trafficked for the purpose of forced soldiering. There also were reports of coerced sexual exploitation of women by both government soldiers and rebel combatants. The trafficking of child soldiers by the PALIPEHUTU-FNL within the country was a problem.

The government supported public awareness campaigns and programs to prevent trafficking and continued to demobilize and provide assistance to former child soldiers from the FDN, GP, and six former rebel groups.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 25 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Rebel forces continue to force or abduct children to serve as child soldiers or perform related activities.  Child soldiers from Burundi have also fought in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  There are no reliable data on the number of children serving in armed forces.  There are reports that child trafficking occurs both within Burundi and across borders.

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