OCHA-Burundi Situation Report 17 - 23 Mar 2003

Situation Report
Originally published
1. Ruyigi Province: Thousands affected by ongoing conflict

In order to escape repeated attacks by FDD rebels, thousands of people from Ruyigi Commune (Burundi's eastern province) are surviving in critical conditions. A humanitarian worker from Ruyigi advised that "Every night for the past three weeks, more than 200 people from the hills have been spending the night at the site of the residence of Ruyigi Commune, and at surrounding military posts." Hospitals and health centres are registering many patients suffering from respiratory infections and malaria after spending the night in the rain.

2. Ruyigi Province: UNICEF concerned over conditions of women and children

As 100,000 people reportedly remain trapped in the Moso region (including Kinyinya and Nyabitsinda communes) since January, UNICEF is working with UN agencies and humanitarian actors to gain access to the most vulnerable. During the frequent attacks, the rights for women and children to health, education and protection, are daily violated. UNICEF continues to target the most vulnerable women and children to benefit from appropriate humanitarian assistance. UN WFP, in partnership with CARE, assisted 10,000 vulnerable families with Seeds Protection Rations.

3. Hope and despair for uprooted Burundians

Despite the signing of ceasefire agreement on 3rd December 2002, fighting continues in Burundi, sending new refuges fleeing into Tanzania. At the same time, a steady flow of refugees is voluntarily returning home, with the help from the UNHCR agency. "We have seen the numbers going up in terms of spontaneous returns, which means people are feeling more optimistic about the security situation," said Stefano Severe, UNHCR representative in Burundi. Jeanine Buyoya, an 18-year-old refugee said they were encouraged by reports from their parents that "they (parents) were in a safe place and it was safe for them to go home now". Rather pessimistic about the chances for peace in her homeland, Ms Kanyambo (refugee in Tanzania) said, "I have no hope in the peace process. Regardless of how long they sit and talk, there will never be peace."

4. Returnees as at 4 March 2003

UNHCR (Burundi) reports 5,511 facilitated and 3686 spontaneous returnees Y.T.D.


5. General

  • Cibitoke Province: 7 people reported killed and over ten wounded in CNDD-FDD rebel laid ambush [17 March].

  • Muramvya Province, Kiganda Commune: Rebels reportedly ambushed 3 minibuses. Money stolen [17 March].

  • Bujumbura Rural Province, Mubimbi Commune: Intense fighting between the Army and FNL rebels. Army sources report 11 rebels killed, but only 4 according to FNL [19 March]

  • Kayanza Province: Recent intense fighting in several communes of Kayanza Province led to closure by the administration authorities of over 30 shops and bars. The communal authorities further warn populations about a possible regroupment to ease security forces task, "if they continue hiding rebels".

  • Makamba Province, Kayogoro Commune: One person (Mayange area) wounded in a landmine explosion [19 March]. Another person (Rubindi Zone) reportedly died in mine explosion [9 March].

  • Cankuzo Province: CNDD-FDD laid attacks in the communes of Cankuzo and Mishiha [night of 19 to 20 March]; Livestock and property looted.

  • Security, Bujumbura Town: Palipehutu-FNL (Agathon Rwasa) advises that they (Palipehutu-FNL) have tangible signs that CNDD-FDD (Pierre Nkurunziza) is preparing to attack the town of Bujumbura.

  • Bubanza Province, Musigati Commune: Two cars (including one from the INGO CORDAID), reportedly ambushed by a group of 8 rebels [20 March]. Money and mobile telephone stolen.

6. 12th session for the Implementation Monitoring Committee of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi (IMC)

Ambassador Berhanu Dinka, Chairman of the IMC, in his opening statement, "calls upon all the political players, especially the parties signatory to the Arusha Peace Agreement and the ceasefire agreements, to resume dialogue and consultations, in a serene atmosphere, in order to fully implement the commitments made." Ambassador Dinka also calls upon PALIPEHUTU-FNL of Agathon Rwasa to immediately cease all hostilities and join the peace process so that a ceasefire agreement may be brokered without delay." [17-21 March]

7. AU mission for Burundi: South Africa appoints Representative

South Africa has appointed Mr Welile Nhlapo to represent the country and Jacob Zuma, the facilitator of the Burundi peace process, in the African Union (AU) mission in Burundi.

"I'm confident that Ambassador Nhlapo will represent us well and will play a key role in ensuring that the African Mission becomes a success," Zuma said.

8. Burundian President's party requests for more time before 1 May changeover

Mr Alphonse Kadege, UPRONA Party President, pleaded for additional time before the implementation of the 1 May country leadership changeover, in accordance with the constitution (Press conference), [15 March].

9. Latest events

  • Resumption of the COMESA summit (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) in Khartoum, Sudan [17 March]. Vice-President Domitien Ndayizeye attended.

  • Burundi Catholic Bishops criticises Burundi politicians' action. [Press release, 15 March].

  • Thirty members of the Transitional National Assembly made a two-day visit to 7 refugee camps in Tanzania [15-16 March].

  • Mr Charles Mukasi, UPRONA Party wing (Non-signatory) Leader released [17 March].

  • Mr Libère Bararunyeretse, President of the senate, in Pretoria, South Africa, to meet with Mr Jacob Zuma, Deputy President and facilitator in the Burundi conflict, on political changeover scheduled 1 May [12-18 March].

  • The Burundi association for journalists (ABJ) calls on the National Transitional Assembly to vote for the law on the press [17 March].

  • Ruyigi Province, Moso region (Nyabitsinda, Kinyinya and Gisuru communes): Access reportedly denied to private journalists from African Public Radio, following their (journalists) alleged collaboration with rebels.

  • Secret Burundi peace talks reportedly held in Caux, Switzerland including FNL representatives, TNGoB, Burundi senior officers [17-22 March].

  • EU loans 664,664 Euros to Burundi within the framework of its (EU) regional support programme to livestock sector.

  • Makamba Province: CNDD-FDD (Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye) voiced protests against the murder of three of its men [13 March] Rukambasi area .

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

  • Chaired by Mr Stefano, Severe (Humanitarian Coordinator a.i.), 33 attendees [19 March].

  • Mr Franco Bosticco, Karuzi Province Focal Point (CISV), presented the minutes [20 February]. Mr Bosticco advised that International Rescue Committee (INGO) finished up activities in Karuzi Province. OCHA advised on re-launching of humanitarian coordination meetings in Bujumbura Town [24 February].
11. GTS

Mr Antoine Gérard, OCHA Head of Office and deputy chairperson of GTS, conducted a follow up visit to GTS representatives from Gitega Province [19-20 March].

For Information

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

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