OCHA-Burundi Situation Report 24 Feb - 02 Mar 2003

Humanitarian Activities
1. UN Human Right High Commissioner visits Burundi

Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, visited Burundi (28 February-1 March). Mr Vieira de Mello officially launched the Kirundi edition of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement [Saturday 1 March].

2. HRW: Civilians pay for faltering peace process

Human Rights Watch released [28 February] a briefing paper, "Burundi: Civilians Pay the Price of Faltering Peace Process," documenting the recent massacre of at least thirty-two and possibly more than eighty civilians by Burundian army soldiers.

3. Four-month sentence for the massacre of 173 people condemned

Commander Joseph Budigoma, Second in Command of the Forth Ngozi Commando Battalion, and Lieutenant Dedite Ndikuriyo, Company Commander, were released (Friday 21 February) after serving five months (sentenced to four) for failing to obey orders and lack of public solidarity, following the massacre of at least 173 civilians in Itaba Commune on 9 September 2002. Amnesty International (AI) issued a statement [Monday 24 February] "condemning in the strongest terms the failure of the Burundian justice system". "Once again it is clear that there is simply no will to hold the Burundian armed forces accountable for their actions and to bring them to justice for gross human rights violations", said Irene Khan, Secretary-General of AI.

4. Cholera update (Rumonge district, Bururi Province)

As at Sunday 2 March, 144 cases reported since 10 February 2003. The overall trend is downward. The Provincial Doctor will re-evaluate the situation on Monday 3 March.

5. Affected Populations Report for the Great Lakes Region

The number of people affected by conflict in the Great Lakes Region has increased by more than 500,000, and the overall peace situation remains precarious, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) Regional Support Office for Central and East Africa said in its new report released 27 February 2003.

6. The Ministry of Interior, supported by UNICEF, initiate anti-mine activities

Two governmental teams (Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defence) supported by UNICEF, launched activities on the 24th February in Kayogoro Commune (Makamba Province), one of the worst mine-affected communes in Burundi (12 victims in 2003 alone).

7. FAO launch seeds and tools distribution

The Emergency Unit of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) commenced its seeds and tool distribution programme for 266,500 "vulnerable" households (in 17 provinces) on Sunday 23 February (2003B cropping season). Each household will receive a seed kit comprising 10-15kg of haricot bean seeds and 10 grams of vegetable seeds. During the same season, 166,500 vulnerable households will receive a digging hoe. The World Food Programme (WFP) will support the programme by providing 170,304 vulnerable households (in eight provinces) with a Seeds Protection Ration of 20-days. Burundi's Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock said (21 February) the prospects for agricultural production were 'disastrous', citing a seed and fertiliser shortage, insecurity, rampant malaria and late rains for the led-causes of a looming food shortage.

8. Tripartite Commission on the Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees

Meeting this week in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania, the Tripartite Commission (comprising UNHCR and the governments of Burundi and Tanzania) issued a Joint-Communiqué on Wednesday 26 February. The Commission recommended the Tanzanian government carry out a census of all Burundian refuges living outside camps. "Once identified, it is recommended that UNHCR assistance be sought for voluntary repatriation". UNHCR has said the implementation would depend on the outcome of the planned transition on 1 May.

9. UNHCR set to close two temporary boarder sites

The Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced last Friday 21 February in Geneva that the temporary border sites in Rugombo and Gatumba would be closed "over the next weeks". The measure has been taken following the transfer of all Congolese refugees to the Cishemeye camp in the northwestern province of Cibitoke.

10. HIV/AIDS report

Dr Vera Bensmann, HIV/AIDS Researcher (Save the Children UK) presented [24 February] the findings/recommendations of a nine-month HIV/AIDS study [www.ochabuirundi.org].

11. Returnees as at 27 February 2003

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


12. Resurgence in fighting

Military officials reported that three civilians were killed when FDD rebels launched an attack (23 February) on an IDP camp at Muhuzu, Gishubi Commune, Gitega Province. In Ngozi Province, Nyamurenza Commune, one person was killed in an FDD rebel attack on a trading centre. Meanwhile, FNL (Agathon Rwasa) laid several ambushes on army patrols in Bujumbura Rural Province, killing three soldiers. In northeastern Kirundo Province, a local authority and his wife were killed by a group of armed criminals (23 February), who are believed to be perpetrators of crimes dating back to 1993, "to silence a bothersome witness," said Mr Philippe Njoni, Kirundo Governor. An FDD attack was also reported in Kivyeyi area, Kiganda Commune (Muramvya Province) where food and livestock was stolen.


13. AU appeals to warring factions

The African Union (AU) issued a communiqué on Tuesday 25 February appealing to Burundi's warring parties to "show restraint and a spirit of compromise with a view to preserving the gains made and to complete the process of restoring peace to the country".

14. Latest events

  • The International Crisis Group (ICG) published a report - A Framework for Responsible Aid to Burundi, last Friday 21 February urging key bilateral and multilateral donors to give money, and provide "concrete evidence of their commitment to the peace process". Ms Fabienne Hara, Co-Director of ICG's African Programme said "Burundi is not yet stable. The transitional government has not implemented Arusha reforms, and there is no agreement yet on security sector reforms. One rebel group is still outside the process, and marginal violence is likely to continue even with a comprehensive ceasefire. But now is the time for donors to play their essential role in building peace".

  • Amnesty International issued a statement (20 February 2003) condemning an attack on the home of RPA Director, Alexis Sinduhije (19 February 2003) as a clear act of "intimidation", and urged the Burundian authorities to consult journalists and human rights defenders with a view to instituting measures to protect them from human rights abuses.

  • Last Saturday (22 February) President Buyoya signed a Joint Declaration in Brussels with the leaders of the DRC, Rwanda and Belgium ("L'engagement de Bruxelles") reaffirming their countries' "sincere and total" commitment to reach a "successful conclusion of the peace process and stabilization underway in the DRC, Burundi and Rwanda").

  • President Buyoya and FDD leader last met in Pretoria on February 15 when South African Deputy-President, Mr Jacob Zuma, reported "substantial progress".

  • On 21 February 2003, the CNDD-FDD rebel group suspended talks with the NTGoB, accusing it of failing to respect a ceasefire accords signed (3 December, 27 January 2003).

  • In a statement, issued 21 February (No.11), the CNDD-FDD (Pierre Nkurunziza) has warned that it will not be responsible for the security of the AU Observers.

  • Burundi's permanent representative to the UN, Mr Marc Nteturuye, expressed concern at the 13th Non-Aligned Movement Summit (Saturday 22 February in Malaysia) that Burundi's bloody civil war would soon be forgotten by the looming conflict in Iraq.

  • The South African NGO ACCORD, conducted a five day Peacekeeping Workshop in Bujumbura (Novotel) from the 24-28 of February.

  • On Monday 24 February the private owned Radio Bonesha FM reported that Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye's wing of the CNDD-FDD would deliver any of its members accused of war crimes to an international tribunal - on condition that those accused must not come from one segment of the political spectrum.

  • The last AU observers (from Burkina Faso) arrived in Bujumbura, Burundi (24 February).

  • On Tuesday 25 February the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chairman of the Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) for the Arusha Peace Agreement, Mr Berhanu Dinka, expressed concern at the press releases issued by the CNDD-FDD on 21 February and by UPRONA on 22 February, stressing in a Press Release that "both (releases) were unhelpful and did not in any way contribute to the peace process which the international community has been supporting and continues to support".

  • On Tuesday 25 February, Burundi's institution of elders (Bashingantahe) called for the rapid establishment of an international criminal tribunal.

  • Mr Yoweri Museveni, Ugandan President and Chairman for the Regional Initiative convened a mini-summit in Dar Es Salaam (2 March). Attendees included Mr Buyoya (Burundi), Mr Mkapa (Tanzania) and Mr Jacob Zuma, SA Deputy President. CNDD-FDD was represented by Mr Hussein Radjabu, CNDD-FDD Secretary General. Issues re food delivery and AU observers have been addressed and had reached agreement.

  • Arrival (26 February) of Colonel El Hadji Alioune Samba, Chairman, Ceasefire Joint Commission.


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

  • Chaired by Mr Stefano, Severe, Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. 45 attendees (26 February).

  • Mr François Chamois and Mr Mohamed Mechmache, respective focal points for Makamba (IRC) and Kayanza (ACF) provinces, presented their minutes (6 February and 21 January).

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/.