Burundi Humanitarian Situation Report No. 12, 26 March 1996
President Mobutu of Zaire, Musevini of Uganda, Bizimungu of Rwanda, Ntibantunganya of Burundi and Mkapa of Tanzania met in Tunis, Tunisia from March 16 to 18 to carry forward their initiative to promote peace and reconciliation in the Great Lakes region. Former President Carter of the United States, Nyerere of Tanzania and Toure of Mali served as facilitators.
The heads of State agreed to take more rigorous efforts to shut down arms flow and military training to rebel groups engaged in cross-border incursions. The heads of State reiterated their desire to see most of the refugees return to their country of origin in a relatively short period of time. Senior Diplomats of the U.N. and the O.A.U. were disappointed at not being invited to the talks and declared that peace initiatives in the area should be coordinated under a single body.
The "Regroupement des Réfugiés pour le Rapatriement et le Retour de la Démocratie au Rwanda (RDR)" was not invited and stated that the real issues were not addressed during the talks and that the outcome was deceiving.
The semi-autonomous "Conseil National de la Communication" banned seven newspapers. The Conseil explained that the decision was necessary to protect the Burundi nation from "hate" propaganda. The newspapers concerned by the ban have been accused of not respecting the law of the press as well as the penal code. In a report earlier this year, the international press freedom organisation, Reporters sans Frontières, called for the banning of the seven on the grounds they were being used as tolls of both Hutu and Tutsi extremism. Most of the banned publications did not support the recent Pacification Campaign. The "Association des journalistes Burundais" see the measure as a political one and as an intimidation against freedom of the press. The Conseil's decision can only be overridden by court action.
The capital remains under a precarious calm. Minor security incidents reported in Bwiza, Mutanga and Gatumba. There are persistent rumours of an imminent attack on Bujumbura. While a certain calm is maintained in the northwestern provinces, the eastern provinces of Karuzi and Muyinga are the scene of numerous attacks. The southern province of Bururi continues to be a privileged "assaillants" position as the natural forest reserve offers an ideal "hide out" after attacks. Three hundred "assaillants" are reported to be active in the commune of Rumonge. Electrical facilities and phone lines were destroyed. No confirmed reports of casualties are available, ICRC visited accessible parts of the province and reported serous damages to infrastructures. A curfew has been imposed at 17:00 hours; the province is considered as under "état de siège".
REPATRIATION OF BURUNDIAN/RWANDAN REFUGEES
The second information campaign to encourage return has not yet started and repatriation figures remain low. On April 1st and 2nd three communes of Butare will be visited by refugees accompanied by HCR officials and representatives of the Government of Rwanda. UNHCR reported tension between refugees and the military following the tripartite commission's announcement of the definite closure of Rukuramigabo camp. HCR reports that Burundians continue to flee their country, 100 to 150 cross into Zaire on a daily basis while HCR/NGARA reports that between march 1 and 15,924 Burundians coming mainly from the area of Kirundo and Muyinga sought refugee status in Tanzania.
INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS
The recent violence in the province of Karuzi has created approximately 20,000 new IDP's and the Communes of Gihogazi, Gitaramuka and Bugenyuzi are the most seriously affected. ICRC is waiting for an improvement in the security situation, in order to send an evaluation mission. ICRC conducted a non-food items distribution for 3,000 new displaced in the province of Bururi.
COORDINATION OF HUMANITARIAN ACTIVITIES
Further to the visit of Mr. Stephen Lewis, Deputy Director-General of UNICEF, and the signatures of the Declaration of Commitment to the Protection of the Children of Burundi by Mr. Lewis and Mr. Antoine Ndwayo, Prime Minister of Burundi, the Government and the Country Office of UNICEF in Burundi launched the 1996 initiative for advocacy and protection of child rights.
The Inter-Agency Contingency Planning Unit has completed the revision of Plan "A".
The working group preparing the "Journées de Reflexion" completed the elaboration of the terms of references. Tables of contents have been drafted for all working documents, namely diagnostic, strategy and pilot projects. Five questionnaires have been created in order to collect information. A meeting will be held on March 28 with three governors and the mayor of Bujumbura in order to analyses the successes and failures of reintegration policies and activities. The analysis will allow the working group to d efine the strategies and projects to be organised.
Mr. Mirza Khan
UN Humanitarian Coordinator - Bujumbura
Tel.: (257) 223 135
Fax: (257) 225 850
Complex Emergencies Division (CED) -
Mr. Yvon Madore
Tel.: (1 212) 963.1627
Fax: (1 212) 963.1388
Complex Emergency Support Unit (CESU)
Ms. Deborah Saidy/Ms. Maria Keating
Tel.: (41 22) 788.6384/788.6385
Fax: (41 22) 788. 6386/788.6389
Press to contact (DHA-Geneva)
Ms. Madeleine Moulin-Acevedo
Tel.: (41 22) 917.2856
Fax: (41 22) 917.0023
Telex: 414242 DHA CH
Internet E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org