23 December 2003
SECURITY COUNCIL REAFFIRMS FULL SUPPORT FOR BURUNDI PEACE PROCESS, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT
NEW YORK, 22 December (UN Headquarters) -- Reaffirming its full support for the Arusha peace process in Burundi, the Security Council this afternoon endorsed recent political developments concerning that country.
Through a statement read out by its President, Stefan Tafrov of Bulgaria (document S/PRST/2003/30), the Council welcomed the signing of the protocols of 8 October and 2 November 2003 in Pretoria and the conclusion of the Global Ceasefire Agreement between the Transitional Government and the Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) on 16 November 2003 in Dar es Salaam. It also expressed satisfaction over the formation of the new Transitional Government and the participation of the CNDD-FDD in its institutions.
The Council once more urged the Forces nationales de liberation (Palipehutu-FNL), the only rebel group that had not yet joined the Arusha process, to do so without further delay.
Also through the statement, the Council called for the mobilization of funds for Burundi, and it condemned acts of violence and violations of human rights. In addition, the Council approved the Secretary-General’s recommendations to renew the mandate of the United Nations Office in Burundi with augmented resources, due to its added responsibilities in assisting the peace process.
After the adoption of the statement, saying that this was possibly the last formal meeting of his presidency and his country’s current tenure on the Council, Stefan Tafrov of Bulgaria, speaking in his national capacity, thanked all those who had worked with his delegation over the past two years.
The full text of the statement to be issued as S/PRST/2003/30, reads as follows:
“The Security Council reaffirms its full support for the peace process of the Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Burundi (the Arusha Agreement), calls on all the Burundian parties to implement their commitments and assures them of its determination to support their efforts in this direction;
“The Security Council welcomes the progress recently made by the Burundian parties, in particular by the signing, in Pretoria, of the 8 October and 2 November 2003 Protocols and by the conclusion, on 16 November 2003 in Dar es Salaam, of the Global Ceasefire Agreement between the Transitional Government and the Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) of Mr. Nkurunziza;
“The Security Council welcomes with satisfaction the formation of the new Transitional Government and the participation of the CNDD-FDD in the transitional institutions; it again urges the Forces nationales de libération (Palipehutu-FNL) of Mr. Rwasa, the last rebel group that has not yet joined the peace process of the Arusha Agreement, to do so without further delay;
“The Security Council pays tribute to the efforts of the States of the Regional Initiative and of the Facilitation, in particular South Africa, in favour of peace in Burundi; it expresses its support for the mission of the African Union in Burundi and for its South African, Ethiopian and Mozambican contingents, and calls on donors to give it financial, material and logistical support as soon as possible;
“The Security Council welcomes the recent mission of the Economic and Social Council’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group, and calls on donors and the international financial community to mobilize during the next Forum of Burundi’s Partners for Development, scheduled for 13 and 14 January 2004 in Brussels, and to honour fully the pledges made so far;
“The Security Council expresses its concern at the dire humanitarian situation of the population of Burundi and recalls that all parties involved are responsible for the security of the civilian population, including by facilitating total, immediate and unrestricted access to the population for the humanitarian organizations;
“The Security Council condemns all acts of violence as well as violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and reaffirms its determination to support Burundian efforts to prevent such acts, based on the rule of law, in order to put an end to impunity;
“The Security Council takes note of the address made by the Burundian President, Mr. Ndayizéyé, to the Council on 22 September 2003. It takes note also of the request made by the South African Vice-President, Mr. Zuma, on behalf of the States of the Regional Initiative, when he spoke before the Council on 4 December 2003, and which is referred to in paragraph 71 of the latest report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Burundi dated 4 December 2003 (S/2003/1146);
“The Security Council welcomes the Secretary-General’s decision to examine the situation with a view to submitting recommendations to the Council, and requests him in this regard to undertake, as soon as he deems it convenient, the appropriate preparatory work and assessment on how the United Nations might provide the most efficient support for the full implementation of the Arusha peace agreement;
“The Security Council takes note of the latest report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Burundi; it welcomes the work carried out, in often difficult conditions, by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the staff of the United Nations Office in Burundi, and approves the recommendations of paragraphs 63 to 65 regarding the renewal of the Office’s mandate.”
The Security Council, meeting this afternoon to consider the situation in Burundi, had before it the Secretary-General’s report (document S/2003/1146) dated 4 December 2003 and covering the period since 18 November 2002, the date of his last report.
In it, the Secretary-General notes that 2003, which witnessed the transfer of power at the level of head of State and intensive ceasefire negotiations, has transformed the country’s politics from a system of ethnic-based exclusion to one of peaceful competition between political alliances. He reiterates his call on PALIPEHUTU (Rwasa) to begin immediate and unconditional ceasefire negotiations with the Transitional Government.
The Secretary-General cautions, however, that despite the encouraging developments in the Burundi peace process, there is a risk that the hopeful signs of peace could be lost unless they are accompanied by improved living conditions as a “peace dividend”. The donor community is urged to provide all-round assistance to Burundi, particularly by accelerating disbursement of the pledges made in Paris and Geneva, and to respond generously at the partners’ forum being organized in Brussels early in 2004. Donors are also encouraged to strengthen their support to humanitarian assistance efforts in Burundi, particularly in response to the 2004 Consolidated Appeal released on 19 November 2003.
Noting the readjustment of the United Nations Office in Burundi (UNOB) during the period under review, the report says the process included the establishment of a Joint Ceasefire Commission, which has become operational. The UNOB continues to provide assistance and advice to the African Mission
The report recalls that Deputy President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Facilitator for the Burundi peace process, briefed the Security Council on 4 December 2003, making a strong request for the United Nations to take over from AMIB. He said that direct United Nations assistance would help to consolidate the gains already made, prepare the ground for successful democratic elections in 11 months’ time and place Burundi firmly on the road to lasting peace and stability. Immediate material, logistical and financial support to AMIB would enable it to continue its work while preparations continued for more robust United Nations involvement.
At present, the report says, 2,645 AMIB troops are deployed in Burundi, including 866 from Ethiopia, 228 from Mozambique and 1,508 from South Africa, in addition to 43 observers from Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mali and Tunisia. Ethiopia is prepared to increase its contingent to 1,300. In June, AMIB established the first cantonment site at Muyange in Bubanza Province for housing 190 ex-combatants of PALIPEHUTU-FNL (Mugabarabona) and CNDD-FDD (Ndayikengurukiye).
The report states further that 27 members representing the Transitional Government, CNDD (Léonard Nyangoma), PALIPEHUTU (Étienne Karatasi), FROLINA (Joseph Karumba), CNDD-FDD (Ndayikengurukiye), PALIPEHUTU-FNL (Mugabarabona) and CNDD-FDD (Nkurunziza) are participating in the Joint Ceasefire Commission.
According to the report, the security situation began to deteriorate in March 2003, culminating with the intense shelling of Bujumbura in April and July by CNDD-FDD (Nkurunziza) and PALIPEHUTU-FNL (Rwasa), respectively. Skirmishing between the two groups since early September in Bujumbura Rural and Bubanza Province has led to the displacement of more than 30,000 people in the Rugazi commune in Bubanza. Assassinations and abductions by PALPEHUTU-FNL (Rwasa) by targeting local administrators around Bujumbura Rural remain a matter of concern. In addition, there has been a recent increase in rape cases in Ruyigi Province, as well as banditry and car ambushes elsewhere.
Regarding Burundi’s humanitarian situation, it is estimated that hostilities have claimed between 250,000 and 300,000 mostly civilian lives, the report states. Humanitarian access remains difficult in some areas, while robbers and kidnappers have targeted non-governmental agencies in the past year. The World Food Programme (WFP) Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission established that 965,000 vulnerable people (13.8 per cent of the population) needed emergency food and agricultural assistance, of whom 595,000 face serious food insecurity.
More than 17 per cent of Burundians are internally displaced or live as refugees outside their country, the report says. Some 281,000 internally displaced continue to live in 230 sites in the country, while up to 100,000 more are temporarily displaced each month. In addition, 753,000 other Burundians remain in refugee camps, villages and communities in the United Republic of Tanzania. On the human rights front, civilians continue to be the victims of killings, attacks and arbitrary arrests by all factions, the report states. Rape and sexual abuse are committed by soldiers, as well as militias of the Transitional Government and the armed movements on an unprecedented scale.
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