Burundi

OCHA-Burundi Situation Report 3 - 9 Mar 2003

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Humanitarian Activities
1. UN WFP undertakes to help 631,000 vulnerable people

The World Food Programme (WFP) has signed a Letter of Understanding with the TNGoB [Tuesday 4 March] to provide food aid for some 631,000 vulnerable people under a protracted relief and recovery operation spanning three years. Some 294,000 tons of food will be needed at an estimated cost of US $195 million, according to Mr Mustapha Darboe, WFP Representative in Burundi. Those targeted include vulnerable children suffering from malnutrition, pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers, as those suffering chronic illness.

2. Cholera-update

The trend remained downward this week in Rumonge District (Bururi Province). As at 7 March, 159 cholera cases have been reported. Cholera cases have also been reported from Buyengero Commune (Bururi Province) although on a smaller scale. Sixteen cases have been registered (including two hospitalised and three related *deaths [*unconfirmed]).

3. NFI assistance for Makamba IDPs

The International NGO, Tearfund, has started [5th March] a distribution of essential non-food items (blankets, plastic sheeting, soap, goblets, basins and jerry cans) to 5,000 families in four IDP camps (Kayogoro, Vugizo and Gatabo communes) in Makamba Province. UNICEF is providing the non-food items and supporting Tearfund operationally. In addition, IRC - UNICEF partner in Makamba, is evaluating the situation in Nyabikina village (Nyanza Lac Commune, Makamba Province) where 82 families were affected by severe storms and flooding last week. IRC will distribute, if necessary, non-food items supplied by UNICEF.

4. Itaba massacre: Statement of the EU and US Embassy

On behalf of the Council of the EU, a Declaration by the Presidency [6 March], called for a 'neutral and independent inquiry to establish the facts rapidly and identify the guilty parties, so they can be prosecuted and judged in accordance with due judicial process'.

The US Embassy issued a statement [26 February] published below verbatim: "The United States of America expresses its great disappointment at the failure of the Transitional Government to fulfill its commitment to appropriately punish under law those responsible for the massacre of civilians by elements of the Army" that took place on September 9, 2002, Itaba Commune, Gitega Province). The United States call on the Transitional Government to fulfil its commitment in this regard. The United States again condemns in the strongest possible terms any killing of civilians by elements of the army and by members of rebel movements and reminds all parties of their obligation to respect the rights of civilians".

5. Returnees as at 4 March 2003

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

Security

6. Insecurity upsurge

Fighting coupled with armed banditry has been reported in several provinces including the northeastern provinces of Muyinga and Kirundo, which had remained calm for over six years. Muyinga provincial authorities reported that CNDD-FDD continue to conduct subversive teachings. In Kirundo, FDD launched an attack and killed one person. In Ngozi, a large rebel presence was reported in four communes. In Kayanza Province, bordering Kibira Forest, CNDD rebels increased their attacks moving from one commune to another toward the central provinces of Gitega and Muramvya. In the capital, unidentified gunmen have killed several people in Cibitoke and Gihosha zones. Witnesses reported four civilians 'executed' by Burundi soldiers (Rukaramu zone) Bujumbura Rural Province [Army Spokesperson Colonel Ayugustin Nzabampena said Monday - according to an AFP report, the four men were killed "out of revenge", but did not give details]. The Army launched offensives against FNL rebels in Mutambu Commune after the rebels attacked military targets during the week. Theft and violence continues in Ruyigi and Cibitoke provinces.

Political

7. The TNGoB and CNDD-FDD resume talks

A Mini-Summit of regional leaders to discuss Burundi's peace process opened in Dar-Es-Salaam [1-2 March] with Mr Yoweri Museveni, Ugandan President [Chairman, Regional Peace Initiative], President Mkapa (Tanzania), President Buyoya (Burundi) and SA Deputy President, Jacob Zuma and CNDD-FDD Secretary General, Mr Hussein Radjabu. CNDD-FDD complained that the government had blocked deliveries of food and medical supplies to its fighters and objected to the deployment of African Mission peacekeeping troops from other countries, saying they were not consulted about the soldiers origin. "All parties welcomed the progress already made in the establishment of the African mission in Burundi and pledged their full support," [Joint Communiqué issued 2 March]. "Both sides have made good progress", President Museveni told Reuters on Sunday 2 March. The Summit ended with all parties agreeing on the 'need for a new constitution' and, the granting of 'immunity from prosecution in the interim'.

8. EC aid for an African Peacekeeping Mission

The European Union has granted [4 March] 1.23m Euros (African Union) for the establishment and operation of an African Peacekeeping Mission for a period six months.

9. Latest events

  • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, ended his three-day visit to Bujumbura, Burundi [2 March].
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) grants US$12.5 million credit to the TNGoB.
  • President Buyoya received Mr Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye and Dr Alain Mugabarabona, (CNDD-FDD and Palipehutu-FNL minority wing Leaders) [3 and 4 March] respectively.
  • Burundi Head of State met with heads of local radio managers [4 March] and forbade them to air any interviews with CNDD-FDD and Palipehutu-FNL leaders (Mr Pierre Nkurunziza and Mr Agathon Rwasa) and/or discussion on the 1 May transition.
  • Mr Charles Mukasi, UPRONA Party wing opposition leader remains in prison despite court's release order [5 March].
  • UPRONA (GoB) undertake sensitisation campaign for the youth (Net Press, 2 March)
  • Mgr Simon Ntamwana, Arch-bishop of Gitega, accused of contributing to the division of the Burundian church community [4 March].
  • Burundi Youth Council (BYC) voice protest against the four-month sentence for the massacre of 173 civilians in Itaba on 9 September 2002 [Statement issued 3 March].
Coordination

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

  • Chaired by Mr Stefano, Severe (Humanitarian Coordinator a.i.) 33 attendees [5March].
  • Mr Alexis Kabona and Mr François Chamois, respective Focal Points for Muyinga (IMC) and Bururi (IRC) provinces, presented their minutes [12 and 18 February].
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/.