The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
On 12 and 13 June, the Burundian and Rwandan authorities forcibly returned some 5,000 Rwandan asylum seekers to Rwanda in violation of international conventions regulating the treatment of asylum seekers. The repatriation of these asylum seekers follows a decision on 11 June by Burundi and Rwanda to consider Burundian and Rwandan asylum seekers as "illegal immigrants".
The Secretary-General is seriously concerned about this action, which constitutes a violation of international law, particularly the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1974 Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugees Problems in Africa. The Secretary-General also urges Burundi and Rwanda to follow due process in accordance with international law to facilitate the return of asylum seekers, including the 7,000 Burundian refugees still in Rwanda and the 700 Rwandan asylum seekers still in Burundi.