OCHA-Burundi Situation Report 17 - 23 Feb 2003

Humanitarian Activities
1. Cholera update (Rumonge district, Bururi Province)

As at Friday 21 February, the total number of cases reported since 10 February 2003 is 122 people (from clinical observations). The epidemic peaked on Tuesday 18 February, with 57 people hospitalised. A total of five (5) related deaths have been recorded. A medical team from Kamenge University Hospital took 5 samples for tests on Tuesday 18th February. ICRC supplied 1000 pairs of surgical gloves and CORDAID provided 300 catheters. MSF-Holland undertook an evaluation mission on Thursday 20 February. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) continues to provide: clean water and disinfectant powder to Rumonge hospital; clean water to affected neighbourhoods; and distribute, soap and water treatment tablets. The IRC have also commenced spraying neighbourhoods and schools with disinfectant. The Ministry of Health continues to work in collaboration with INGOs.

2. Nutritional/famine alert

Action Against Hunger (ACF) released a report highlighting the potential for a major food crisis, (Thursday 20 February). ACF and UNICEF report alarming increases in the increasing numbers of severe malnutrition cases in Therapeutic feeding centers (TFC).

3. WFP addressing the food shortage issue

As at Monday 17th February, the in-country stocks stood at 4,574.864 Mt. WFP Burundi is pushing for the urgent dispatch of all stocks in the transit warehouses and corridors. WFP Rwanda has agreed to loan WFP Burundi 1,500 MT of cereals. This will ensure distribution to all priority programmes up to the end of March. More pledges are required to cover the increasing needs of the drought affected vulnerable people for the first half of 2003.

4. UNICEF school distribution halted by insecurity

UNICEF distributed school material in Ruyigi province in the framework of education in emergencies. Over 12,000 pupils have, in February, been provided with school material such as notebooks and pens. The distribution, in Butezi, Bweru and Ruyigi communes, were interrupted this week due to the insecurity causing a lack of access. "Education activities are usually an oasis of normalisation for children affected by conflicts, the ability of many children to partake in education activities is severely undermined in affected communes," said Mr Lawalley Cole, UNICEF Education Officer. UNICEF will distribute material for up to 28,000 vulnerable primary school pupils in Ruyigi as soon as access is restored.

5. UNICEF seeks to address low primary school attendance

Concerned by the poor enrolment figures of displaced and indigent children in primary school, UNICEF hosted a meeting on Wednesday 19 February (organised in cooperation with the Ministries of Education, Interior and Public Security) in order to improve mechanisms for identifying indigent children in the country and facilitate their entry into education.

6. Mr Alexandre Nzeyimana released

Mr Alexandre Nzeyimana, approximately 12 years old at the time of his arrest in April 2002, was unconditionally released (20 February). His release follows Amnesty International's campaign to raise the issue of "child prisoners" (27 January), highlighting Mr Nzeyimana's plight.

7. EU donates 24m Euros for Burundian and Congolese refugees

Tanzania is scheduled to receive 24 m Euros (US $26 million) from the European Commission this year to help meet the humanitarian needs of Burundian and Congolese refugees in the country. According EC's humanitarian aid agency, ECHO, Tanzania continues to host more than half a million refugees -- the largest caseload in Africa -- despite being one of the world's poorest countries. Approximately 520,000 refugees under UNHCR protection (including Burundian refugees) are expected to benefit from this assistance.

8. Returnees as at 8 February 2003

UNHCR (Burundi): report 3,545 facilitated and 2,262 spontaneous returnees Y.T.D. .


9. Resurgence in fighting between the Army and rebel groups.

Intense fighting between the Army and rebels has been reported over the week, resulting in temporary displacement of people from hill to hill. Despite the signed agreement (December 3) and the Joint Declaration (27 January), CNDD-FDD increased its attacks in Kayanza, Bubanza, Gitega, Cibitoke and Ruyigi provinces, while the Palipehutu-FNL (Agathon Rwasa) claimed attacks on military positions (14, 15, 19 February) in Bujumbura Rural.

10. General

  • Rebels (CNDD-FDD) laid an ambush on a public transport vehicle at Ngarama (Ruyigi). All passengers' money was stolen and one soldier (passer-by) was killed (17 February).

  • FDD rebels attacked the communal administrator's house in Kayanza Province, Gahombo Commune, no casualties reported (16-17 February).

  • Palipehutu-FNL rebels (Agathon Rwasa) attacked a military position (19 February) at Mageyo (26 km from the capital Bujumbura). Ten soldiers were reportedly killed. The fighting broke out last Friday (14 February) at Martyazo and Kinama (Bujumbura Rural).

  • Unidentified armed men attacked the house of Mr Alexis Sinduhije, Director of African Public Radio (APR) in Kinindo Zone, Bujumbura town. His guard was shot dead.

  • One police officer was killed in a CNDD-FDD rebel attack at Kayanza town centre, Kayanza Province (18 February). Belongings and livestock were also stolen from several households.

  • Heavy fighting reported (Army/FDD) in Murwi and Bukinanyana communes over two-days starting 18 February. Goods and livestock looted and people displaced (Cibitoke Province).

  • CNDD-FDD rebels ambushed a vehicle from the Agricultural Department (DPAE) on the road from Gitega to Ruyigi (Butaganzwa Commune) Thursday 20 February.

  • CNDD-FDD rebels (Pierre Nkurunziza) attacked Kayanza town centre (19 February).


11. The TNGoB and rebels meet to progress ceasefire

The TNGoB and defence ministers from Ethiopia, South Africa and Mozambique met with rebel faction leaders (CNDD-FDD and Palipehutu-FNL) on Tuesday 18 February. The ministers visited Burundi (17-19 February) to discuss the planned African Mission.

12. Latest events

  • 14-day deadline set for the creation of the Ceasefire Technical Commission (18 February).

  • German Ambassador, Mr Jurgen Weerth and Burundi External Relations Minister, Mr Therence Sinunguruza, signed a 28m Euro bi-lateral cooperation agreement (18 February).

  • DR Congo Defense Minister accuses neighbouring countries (including Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda) of being "the main obstacle" to effective peace.

  • CNDD-FDD (Pierre Nkurunziza) suspends meeting with President Buyoya (21 February).


13. Contact Group Meeting (for the Minutes access: www.ochaburundi.org)

  • Chaired by Mr Stefano, Severe, Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. 34 attendees (19 February).

  • OCHA discussed the situation in Ruyigi Province, following the recent visit made by the Technical Group for the Permanent Framework for the Protection of IDPs.

  • Mr Francis Périneau (Solidarités) Focal Point for Muramvya Province presented the minutes (28 January). He advised that Solidarités will conclude their nutrition program in Muramvya, which will be replaced by ACF (Action Against Hunger).

14. OCHA field visits and meetings

OCHA field staff participated in the Bururi Focal Point meeting conducted by IRC on Tuesday 18 February, and contingency plan meetings in Ruyigi and Cankuzo provinces.

For Information,

Nicholas McGowan, Information Officer
OCHA Burundi, PH: (257) 951 681, Email: mcgowann@un.org


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