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Malaria Outbreak Has Killed Over 4,000 in Burundi So Far This Year, Says UN

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza bids farewell to his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma (not in the picture) as he departs at the airport after an Africa Union-sponsored dialogue in an attempt to end months of violence in the capital Bujumbura, February 27, 2016. Credit: Reuters

Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza bids farewell to his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma (not in the picture) as he departs at the airport after an Africa Union-sponsored dialogue in an attempt to end months of violence in the capital Bujumbura, February 27, 2016. Credit: Reuters

Kampala: An outbreak of malaria has killed over 4,000 people in Burundi so far this year, the UN said today. This is a dramatic rise over the 700 victims the government announced just two weeks ago.

According to the report by the UN humanitarian office that there have been over nine million cases of malaria in the East African nation since January 2016. Burundi, one of the world’s poorest countries, has a population of about 11 million.

The malaria cases are “well beyond the epidemic threshold,” the report said, citing World Health Organisation investigators.

The outbreak is the latest crisis for Burundi, which has been wrecked by deadly political violence since 2015. It also faces food shortages that the UN says have left nearly one in ten people severely food insecure.

The political crisis began with President Pierre Nkurunziza’s ultimately successful decision in April 2015 to seek a third term. The critics called it unconstitutional.

Hundreds have been killed, and more than 380,000 Burundians have fled into neighbouring countries.

The UN estimates that the number of people affected by food insecurity increased from 2.1 million to three million between October and January, the report said.