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Burundi Weekly Humanitarian News, 13 - 19 Oct 2008

Situation Report
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Activities and Updates

Repatriation and reintegration of Burundian refugees

Since the beginning of this year, a total of 81,641 Burundian refugees have returned including spontaneous returnees who beneficiated of return package: 435 in January, 1,991 in February, 8,377 in March, 6,675 in April, 5,272 in May, 19,635 in June, 17,504 in July, 9,640 in August, and 8,441 in September, and 3,851 so far in October. Most of the repatriate persons are from Tanzania.

Since 2002, up-to-date 460,438 Burundian refugees returned to the home country.

Humanitarian Committee meeting

An inclusive Humanitarian Country Team involving UN agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, key donors on ad-hoc basis (mainly ECHO, DFID as well as the Belgian, Dutch embassies) and RESO (a federation of international NGOs working in Burundi) met on 15 October, to endorse the cluster arrangements in the country, and were unanimous in seeing the clusters activated in case of new serious emergency requiring additional support to the Government. It was the view that humanitarian issues should not be systematically considered only as "emergency" matters but should be integrated into key or sensitive ongoing activities of the United Nations system. Emergency preparedness will be treated as an integral part of any recovery or development program. It was on not creating additional levels of coordination but to integrate the humanitarian component into existing relevant sector groups of the PRSP.

Update on food aid distribution

WFP distributed 170 tons of food reaching a total of 14,453 beneficiaries It should be noted that only four activities were fully implemented due to pipeline breaks caused by regional exportation restrictions: Activities included 1) Health and Nutrition projects reaching 8, 262 beneficiaries (69 tons), 2) Assistance to HIV/Aids programmes and Social centres reaching 768 beneficiaries (12 tons), 3) the repartiation programme distributed 78.5 tons for 4,935 returnees from Tanzania and 4) the refugee programme served 578 refugees in two camps with10 tons of food (The new arrivals to the Musasa camp).

Following the recommendations of a recent WFP Urban Assessment Study on the impact of soaring food prices in urban areas (Vulnerability and food Insecurity in Three Urban Areas of Burundi), WFP is together with partners (Ministry of Solidarity, UNICEF, FAO,UNESCO, BINUB and IFAD and Local Associations) preparing safety net interventions targeting the poorest of the poor and destitute families. The propose target group is the one revealed by the study to be most affected by the crisis due their of limited access to employment opportunities and limited coping ;echanisms. Interventions will cover the periphery areas of Bujumbura, Gitega and Ngozi. WFP immediate response will focus on community based nutrition support to assist children and their others through a wet-feeding and take home ration.

Human rights violations

During the week under review, HR&JOs continued to receive reports of persisting harassment against opposition political parties. On 10 October, the Police prevented an Alliance Démocratique pour le Renouveau (ADR) meeting in Bujumbura meanwhile on the following day, 21 members of UPDZigamibanga party were arrested in Ngozi Province by the administrator of Tangara Commune on allegations of holding an illegal meeting. They were released on 14 October; meanwhile in Makamba Province, another UPD-Zigamibanga member who was arrested and detained on similar allegations during a whole month was finally released on 9 October. It is worth mentioning that in the past few weeks UPD-Zigamibanga party has been particularly targeted by the authorities as it is perceived as the "Trojan horse" of the pro-Radjabu militants.

HR&JOs also followed up the prison transfer of Pasteur Mpawenayo, former pro-Radjabu CNDDFDD Member of Parliament from Bujumbura Mairie to Rutana province. Although the reasons of his transfer remain unclear as he is supposed to appear before a court in Bujumbura, it should be recalled that Mr. Mpawenayo's arrest and detention since July 2008 is also viewed as politically motivated.

This week also, HR&JOs monitored the trial of the FDN soldiers accused of involvement in the summary execution of at least 30 civilians in 2006 in Muyinga Province. The absence in this case of the main defendant, Colonel Vital Bangirinama, former Commander of the fourth military region is hampering the judicial process. Colonel Bangirimana fled the country in January 2008 after confessing to the summary executions. A red notice was reportedly made public by Interpol subsequent to an arrest warrant issued by the Government of Burundi.

With regards to capacity building and training activities, 11 awareness raising sessions were held in nine provinces within the framework of the integrated strategy to fight sexual violence against women and children. A total of 650 persons, including 343 men were in attendance. Meanwhile a series of theater plays on human rights were launched in the context of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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