Washington, D.C. — Amid violence, civil unrest and a crackdown on independent media in Burundi, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is surging media operations to Bujumbura and surrounding cities.
“Keeping the airwaves open for our audience to get reliable news and information is our top priority in Burundi. We have confirmed reports that all five major independent news broadcasters are off the air in Burundi, and during this time of crisis we know that through its 24/7 FM station VOA is playing a pivotal role,” said BBG Interim CEO and Director André Mendes.
The BBG remains on air 24/7 in Burundi, via its own FM station in Bujumbura carrying Voice of America programming. VOA affiliate stations Renaissance TV and RPA and Rema Radio were attacked and burned Wednesday night by unknown attackers, and at the time of this release all other major news channels are offline.
VOA Kirundi/Kinyarwanda remains the only broadcaster engaging Burundians in Kirundi several hours a day about events unfolding in their own country. This week, VOA added a daily live call-in program in Kirundi, as well as additional news in Kirundi, Swahili, and French. VOA plans to launch additional live programming in the next several days. VOA East Africa Bureau Chief Gabe Joselow is on the ground reporting from Burundi, as well as several local stringers. More information on VOA’s reporting can be found here.
“Amid the crisis, people are starving for information on what is happening in their country and their neighborhoods. As people look for access to independent and up-to-date information, VOA plays a key role in helping people know what is happening,” said Mike Jobbins, senior program manager for Africa for Search for Common Ground, a conflict prevention and conflict resolution NGO.
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