High Commissioner for Human Rights reiterates serious concern about the human rights situation in Burundi

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson today reiterated her serious concern about the human rights situation in Burundi as she welcomed the assumption by Nelson Mandela of his responsibilities in the Arusha Peace Process and the decision of the Security Council to focus on the situation in Burundi at its session next Wednesday.

In particular Mrs. Robinson condemned the forced relocation of the population in the provinces of Bujumbura rural, Makamba and Rutana where more than 300,000 people have been relocated in camps where they lack adequate shelter, access to food and water, health care and education.

"This policy of forced relocation violates the civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights of the affected population. It is also contrary to the relevant principles of international law, as restated in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, in particular the protection of persons from forced displacement, their protection and assistance during displacement as well as their safe return or resettlement," Mrs. Robinson said.

The High Commissioner said she joined the Secretary-General and the regional Heads of State who have assisted the Arusha Summit in calling for the immediate disbandment of all "regroupement" camps. She also recalled that the State and all combatants were obliged under international humanitarian law to guarantee safe and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance to civilians.