This is the second official mission to Burundi undertaken by the Representative, whose first such mission was in 1994. He undertook this current visit at the invitation of the Government of Burundi and at the request of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), comprised of the United Nations and other international humanitarian and development agencies.
During the course of the visit, the Representative engaged in constructive and candid dialogue with President Buyoya, the Minister of External Affairs, the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Reinsertion and Reinstallation of Displaced Persons and Returnees and the Minister of Human Rights. He also met with UN agencies, international non-governmental organizations and representatives of the diplomatic community. During his visits to Bujumbura Rurale, Bujumbura Mairie and Ngozi he met with the provincial and zone authorities.
The visit came at an opportune time as the Government had announced on Monday, the first day of official meetings for the Representative, that it would proceed with the dismantling of regroupment sites, beginning with 11 followed by a further 13 and eventually all sites, depending upon security. The Representative welcomed this announcement as well as the initiation of the dismantling process on Monday in Maramvya. He encourages the Government to pursue and implement the decision to dismantle the camps and for the international community to provide appropriate international assistance to that end. He is particularly pleased that prior to his departure a meeting was convened by the Government with representatives of the international humanitarian community with a view to jointly planning and preparing support to persons returning during the dismantling process.
Today, the Representative visited Maramvya site as well as the area to which its inhabitants returned but are in need of reintegration assistance. He also visited Kabezi site, where problems of overcrowding, inadequate shelter and the need for medical care was evident. The Representative urges the Government and the international community to work together to ensure that, at a minimum, the basic humanitarian assistance and protection needs of the displaced are addressed. In particular, he encourages measures to be taken to ensure that they have regular access to their fields in time for the planting season this month.
Earlier this week, in Bujumbura Mairie and Ngozi he visited settlements of persons who had been internally displaced for several years. He was pleased to have seen that their conditions are significantly improved since his last visit, though continued support to enable them to become self-sufficiency is required.
The Representative will report the findings of his visit to the United Nations Secertary-General and the IASC next week.