In March 1999, the ICRC resumed its activities in Burundi. The ICRC had suspended its work in the country in June 1996, after a security incident claimed the lives of three ICRC delegates and threats were leveled against its personnel.
The ICRC's decision to return to Burundi reflects its wish to meet major humanitarian needs, particularly in the area of work that is covered by the ICRC mandate. Moreover, the highest Burundian authorities have clearly stated that every measure will be taken to guarantee the safety of ICRC delegates.
As a first step, the ICRC has begun to conduct visits, in accordance with its customary procedures, to detainees held in the country's main prisons .
ICRC Activities in Burundi:
Between January and September 1999, ICRC delegates visited 8 of the country's eleven main prisons, where more than 80 per cent of the prison population, estimated at 9,700, is reportedly held.
Visits began in April 1999 and were carried out according to ICRC working procedures. When needed and in cooperation with the authorities, ICRC would take action in areas where it has specific expertise, such as the rehabilitation of sanitary facilities and water-supply systems as well as providing technical assistance for projects set up by the prison administration to improve sanitation and build dispensaries. Non food assistance is also provided.
In the area of cooperation with National Society, the ICRC and the Burundi Red Cross participated in the formation of the first unit of volunteers in the areas of models of intervention in case of conflict and the education of Red Cross principles. Three more seminars on the formation of emergency units are planned for this year in cooperation with the International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies.
Budget and Staff:
The 2000 budget for ICRC Burundi is SFr 8,740,284.
- 12 expatriates
(including 2 National Society representatives).
- 45 (approx.) locally hired staff.