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Burundi Weekly Humanitarian News, 20 - 26 Oct 2008

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Activities and Updates

UNDAF Retreat

Gitega is hosting UNDAF retreat which started on Tuesday, 28 October and will end on Friday, 31 October 2008. The retreat aimed at determining strategic objectives of the partnership between the United Nations and the Burundian Government for the years 2010 through 2014.

Repatriation of Burundian refugees

During the reporting period, 1525 returnees arrived in Burundi, all of them from Tanzania, except for 5 who arrived from South Africa. All of those who repatriated from Tanzania entered through Makamba; 1017 arrived from the old Settlements on two convoys.

Since the beginning of this year, a total of 83,170 Burundian refugees have returned: 435 in January, 1,991 in February, 8,377 in March, 6,675 in April, 5,272 in May, 19,635 in June, 17,508 in July, 9,642 in August, and 8,439 in September, and 5,196 so far in October.

This figure includes the return of 22,620 refugees from 1972, including 32 from villages in Kigoma region.

Update on food aid distribution

WFP distributed 733 tons of food reaching a total of 56,119 beneficiaries through its various programmes.

Human rights violations

The military court rendered its judgement in the trial of the FDN soldiers allegedly involved in the 2006 Muyinga summary executions and forced disappearances. Despite the defendant's lawyers' complaints about the absence of Colonel Vital Bangirinama, the main defendant, the military court sentenced the latter to death. He was charged with assassination, illegal arrest and detention. Meanwhile, three FDN soldiers were sentenced to life imprisonment and four others to penalties ranging from two to ten years in jail. Eight other defendants were acquitted. It is worth mentioning that the sentence against Col. Bangirimana may constitute a hurdle, as the risk of execution is a reason not to extradite someone according to international law.

With regard to harassment against opposition parties, a judicial decision granted provisional release to former CNDD-FDD Member of Parliament Théophile Minyurano. Mr. Minyurano had been arrested and detained in Gitega since [1 Oct.] on charges of insult and assault on a magistrate. He is one of the 22 dissenting CNDD-FDD Parliamentarian excluded from the National Assembly and has since become a member of the UPD-Zigamibanga party. Some observers viewed his arrest as politically motivated. Meanwhile, HR&JOs were informed that the Governor of Makamba prevented UPD-Zigamibanga party members from organising a wreath laying ceremony to commemorate the 1993 assassination of President Ndadaye on [21 Oct.], in Makamba.

In the context of the reinforcement of courts' administration and the professionalization of the judiciary, the HR&JD held a training session on magistrates' ethics for 56 magistrates, including 11 women, from Bubanza Province jurisdictions.

Within the framework of the integrated strategy to fight sexual violence against women and children, HR&JOs organised nine awareness-raising sessions for 534 participants including 295 men.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.