BURUNDI: UN Humanitarian Information Bulletin 1998.12.10

BURUNDI: UN Humanitarian Information Bulletin 1998.12.10

Humanitarian Operations in Burundi

Information Bulletin, November 23 - 29, 1998

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs


Government responds to latest Amnesty report. On 24 November, the Burundian Government reacted to the 19 November report issued by Amnesty International which drew attention to continued large-scale massacres of civilians carried out by the army and rebe l groups. The Minister for Human Rights, Eugene Nindorera, conceded that it was a "regrettable reality" that civilians were occasionally caught in crossfire during military operations aimed at dislodging rebels. However, he emphasised that soldiers woul d be held responsible for individual reprehensible acts and that certain incidents would be investigated and punished by law. The Minister further stated that Amnesty had failed to appreciate the efforts that have been made by the Burundian Government to wards protecting and promoting human rights over the course of this year.

Further attack in Bubanza. 33 people were killed and 10 wounded in an attack on the Gihungwe displaced site in Bubanza during the night from 22 to 23 November. 114 houses were also burned during the attack which was allegedly carried out by a group of 200 FNL/Palipehutu rebels. A joint mission comprised of representatives from OHCHR, UNICEF, Children's Aid Direct and OCHA visited the site on 24 November to meet with local authorities and assess needs. It was concluded that a distribution of non-food items was necessary for those who had lost their homes. The site had just benefited from a food and non-food distribution carried out earlier this month.

President Buyoya travels to Paris. President Buyoya left for Paris on 26 November to attend the 20th Franco-African summit. Key themes covered were security issues, in particular the DRC crisis, and the reinforcement of French cooperation in Africa. The President of the National Assembly , Leonce Ngendakumana, also attended the meeting which was hosted by President Jacques Chirac and attended by 34 African Heads of State. In a separate meeting between French Secretary of State Charles Josselin and President Buyoya on 27 November, the Fr ench Government announced that development aid to Burundi would be increased from FrFr 5 million to FrFr 20 million. Humanitarian Coordinator visits Bubanza province. On 27 November, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, accompanied by OCHA, visited Bubanza province to meet with the Governor and visit a displaced site located in Ngara and the transit centre for unaccompanied run by Children's Aid Direct at Mpan da. The Governor of Bubanza, the province with the largest displaced population in Burundi, has initiated a policy of dismantling larger sites by moving people to smaller sites closer to their homes. This strategy enables people to have improved access to their land.

Humanitarian Activities

Concern nutrition survey reveals improvement in Cibitoke. A nutritional survey carried out by the Irish NGO Concern among 837 children under five in all but two of Cibitoke's communes, revealed global and severe malnutrition rates of 5.63% and 0.84%, respectively. This presents a significant improvement compare d to the last survey carried out in April which had identified global and severe malnutrition rates of 21.2% and 10.2%, respectively. The improvement is attributed to an amelioration in the overall security situation, which has enabled the population to have increased access their land, and the effective targeting of humanitarian assistance. However, the improvement could also be attributed to the fact that malnourished children that had been registered in the past have meanwhile passed away and hence n o longer were part of the calculations. The subcommittee on nutrition, which includes members from a wide range of humanitarian agencies, has been asked to analyse in more detail the factors underlying this improvement.

Provincial focal points adopted. In order to improve provincial coordination, a new mechanism in the form of provincial focal points has been adopted. The provincial focal points, with support from OCHA, will ensure the regular convening of coordination meetings attended by all partners operating in the province, liaise with local authorities to present common views as necessary and transmit security-related information to other partners. The focal points will also assist in centralising all humanitarian-related information such as res ults from evaluations and surveys and updates on site population figures.

World Vision housing project proceeding in Karuzi. World Vision has started a new housing project in Karuzi targeting 600 families who once lived in the Canzikuro camp. Th project is funded by CIDA and supported by UNHCR which has provided tin sheeting for the roofs. Habitat for Humanity has seconded a construction engineer to manage the project and has provided funding for other roofing materials.

SCF Nutrition survey in Gitega. Save the Children Fund UK has completed a nutrition survey in Gitega province where the global and severe malnutrition rates were slated at 12% and 1%, respectively.

OHCHRB activities. The Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Burundi, OHCHRB, continues to carry out visits to detention centres, investigations of human rights abuses, and general promotion and protection of human rights. Prisons and detention centers in Bu jumbura, Gitega, Rutana, Muramvya, Bururi, Makamba, Karuzi and Ruyigi were visited this month; the overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions and cases of prolonged detention were once again brought to the attention of prison administrators and the Ministry of Justice. Individual cases, which included the arrests of two CNDD members, a number of Burundian returnees and youth group members, were investigated in Bubanza, Bujumbura, Bururi and Makamba. Further activities this month included investigations int o the disappearance of seven Rwandans in the Mugina commune of Cibitoke and a visit to the cachot at Bujumbura's central market to investigate allegations of physical abuse. 100 people were recently arrested at the market during an ID card control; 55 p eople were immediately released after OHCHR intervened. OHCHR staff also observed the continuation of the "Bagaza trial" implicating a number of his followers of plotting to assassinate President Buyoya in early 1997. The trial was held in a military co urt where the accused insisted on the illegality of their arrests. They claimed that the military court was not competent to handle this case and that it should be forwarded to the Supreme Court. In the meantime, OHCHRB has been meeting with local NGOs, members of civil society and Government officials in Bujumbura, Gitega and Ngozi to organise celebrations that will be held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December.

Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 16:23:52 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: BURUNDI: UN Humanitarian Information Bulletin 1998.12.10

Editor: Ali B. Dinar,