Burundi: OCHA-Burundi Information Bulletin 1-15, 4/16/99

Burundi: OCHA-Burundi Information Bulletin 1-15, 4/16/99

Humanitarian Operations in Burundi

Information Bulletin, 1 - 15 April 1999

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs


Arusha discussions continue On 12 April, debate resumed in Arusha over the nature of the Burundian conflict, ethnic discrimination and how to promote national reconciliation.
The First Commission will meet until 22 April to come up with solutions that will be presented to the plenary session planned for June. The commission is studying the definition of conflict and its pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial impact as well as the genocide issue and crimes against humanity. According to a participant, progress was being made "slowly but surely". Other commissions charged with studying democracy and good governance, peace and security, and economic reconstruction and development will reconvene on 11 May. The talks began in June 1998.

Increase in insecurity in Makamba and Ruyigi The beginning of the month of April saw a deterioration in the general security situation in Makamba and Ruyigi provinces. Rebel attacks took place the night from 3 to 4 April at Gisenyi in Kayogoro zone in Mabanda commune leaving 12 civilians dead, 8 injured and 30 houses destroyed. During the same night an attack took place at Kinyinya leaving 3 killed and 3 injured. On 5 April an attack on the town of Makamba left 10 killed while the same night another 5 were killed near Kayogoro and a health centre was pillaged at Canda. On 7 April two vehicles were ambushed in Makamba, one a civilian vehicle travelling along the RN3 towards the border, another a vehicle on loan from UNDP to the Ministry of Human Rights to support parliamentarians involved in the peace process. Two were injured during the latter incident. Further attacks and/or counter-attacks occurred at Kinyinya on 10, 12 and 13 April (nearly 300 houses burned and over 850 families displaced) as well as at Nyange in Makamba on 10 and 11 April. All UN missions to Makamba were halted pending clearance from the UN security cell who visited the area on 13 April. The humanitarian community is closely monitoring the situation and especially population displacements in order to be prepared to intervene if necessary.

Closer relations with Rwanda On 12 April the First Burundian Vice President met with Prime Minister Rwigema in Kigali in an effort to improve cooperation between the two countries. Issues discussed included the facilitation of travel and educational exchange between the two countries. Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu travelled to Burundi on 15 April for a three day visit in a further step towards normalising relations. Bizimungu is the first Head of State to visit Burundi since the imposition of the embargo in July 1996.

Visit of US Special Envoy The US Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Howard Wolpe, visited Burundi from 2 to 6 April to discuss recent developments with, inter alia, President Buyoya, the First and Second Vice Presidents, the Head of the National Assembly, the Ministers of Defense, Justice, Energy and Mines, former President Ntibatunganya and the diplomatic corps. In particular, he sought to assess developments in the peace process and the strengthening of the internal partnership. Wolpe had last visited Burundi in August 1998.

New ambassadors present their credentials Four new ambassadors from Japan, Pakistan, Algeria and Spain, presented their credentials to President Buyoya on 14 April. The Japanese ambassador is based in Nairobi, the Algerian ambassador in Kampala and the remaining two in Dar es Salaam.

Pinheiro remarks on improvements in Burundi The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, addressed the Human Rights Commission in Geneva on 1 April and indicated that overall the political situation in Burundi had shown signs of improvement. Tensions had eased as a result of efforts made towards the attainment of political agreements based on power-sharing. Although this had, to a certain degree, restored confidence, Pinheiro stressed that the ongoing armed conflict continued to result in daily casualties. He urged the international community to continue and augment their support for Burundi. The Burundian Minister for Human Rights, Eugene Nindorera, also addressed the commission and informed of progress made, for instance, in raising awareness in respect to human rights and improved prison conditions.

First Vice President travels to Europe Burundi's First Vice President, Fréderic Bamvuginyumvira, departed for Europe on 12 April where he will visit Great Britain, France and Switzerland. During his visits to London, Paris, and Geneva he will meet the Burundian diaspora to explain progress made in establishing a political partnership and to seek support for the peace process. He will also use the occasion to urge for the resumption of bilateral cooperation with the respective governments. In Geneva he will also meet with representatives of UNHCR, ICRC and OHCHR. The Vice President is accompanied by the Minister of Justice, Terence Sinunguruza, who will afterwards proceed to Canada.

Impact of lifting of embargo The Deputy Speaker of the Transitional National Assembly, Fréderic Nguenzi-Buhoro, indicated in an interview with RFI on 7 April that the end of the two and a half year embargo had brought relief and restored confidence. The economic impact of the suspension still remained to be felt, however, as goods imported by businessmen were only just starting to arrive. Overall, the cost of living for the average Burundian still remained high. The resumption of international flights, however, had greatly enhanced freedom of movement. The Deputy Speaker indicated that he hoped that a more far-reaching agreement would be attained by all parties by the end of year. He also stressed that Burundi's involvement in the Congo conflict was limited to protecting the country's border.

Nyerere visits camps Julius Nyere visited the Kasulu and Kibondo camps in the Kigoma region on 8 April to brief refugees on the progress made in the peace talks. He also proceeded to Ngara. He stressed that Arusha committee members needed to work faster if a consensus was to be obtained. During an interview with Burundian radio on 8 April, Burundi's Defence Minister accused rebels of using Tanzania as a base from which to launch surprise attacks.

Humanitarian Activities

New feeding centres open in Bubanza ACF has completed construction of its second therapeutic feeding centre located in Mpanda commune. The centre will cater to beneficiaries from the southern part of the province. The other ACF feeding centre located in the provincial capital is now operating on a 24 hour basis which was not possible before due to insecurity. In addition, the British NGO Children's Aid Direct, CAD, has opened it's 11th supplementary feeding centre in Muyebe in Musigati commune.

Typhus in Bururi under control In response to a rising number of typhus cases in Bururi (584 cases reported from November to February), Memisa undertook an insecticide campaign which included the boiling of clothes and the application of an insecticide to clothing and bedding. The campaign was carried out in collaboration with the provincial medical officer and the insecticide powder was provided by MSF B and IFRC. No new cases were reported in March. Memisa also works in Bubanza, Cibitoke, Bururi and Makamba and may soon be expanding into Bujumbura rural.

New UNHCR verification exercise in Cibitoke A new UNHCR verification exercise carried out in Cibitoke revealed that only 363 Congolese refugees remained on site, approximately 100 less than during the last survey carried out in February. There have been no new arrivals.

SCF UK efforts to strengthen assistance to UAC SCF UK runs a special programme charged with the coordination of tracing activities and the prevention of separation. In order to raise awareness in this sector, SCF has organised a series of three day training workshops in all the regions to standardise all partners' approach and methodology. In total 8 workshops covering 17 provinces took place. Key issues covered included child rights, causes of and analysis for separation, development of strategies for prevention and tracing methodologies and general harmonisation of approaches among partners. The programme places special emphasis on the active participation of local authorities. Main partners include CAD, TDH, ACF, World Vision, Caritas, IMC and Oxfam Quebec. From June 1998 to February 1999, 485 cases of unaccompanied children have been registered (mainly 129 in Bubanza, 110 in Bujumbura Rural, 83 in Gitega, 46 in Kayanza, 38 in Bujumbura Mairie, 30 in Bururi, 13 in Makamba, 10 in Muramvya). 285 were able to be unified with family members, leaving 200 cases pending. SCF has also taken over a database formerly established by Intersos that listed 4,400 UAC last July; SCF is in the process of verifying these cases. Overall, SCF wishes to make the phenomenon of child separation better understood and to ensure better coordination. SCF recommends that support from international NGOs to local structures be increased and that church partners become more involved.

Overview of distribution of seed protection rations WFP completed the distribution of over 6,800 MT of seed protection rations to 867,319 beneficiaries between 11 February and 22 March. All distributions were channelled through WFP's partner, CARE.

Oxfam GB study of sites in Gitega Oxfam Great Britain/Intermon has shared results of a vulnerability study undertaken in March in Gitega's fifteen displaced sites housing a total of 4,869 families. It was found that 84% (4,113 households) had regular access to their original land while 15% (724 households) worked on allocated plots and 1% (32 households) had no access. The majority of the displaced have been living in the sites since the outbreak of hostilities in late 1993.

Burundi Red Cross Activities The Burundi Red Cross has repaired the water system supplying the Bukemba hospital in Rutana so that water no longer needs to be trucked as has been the case for the past four years. Brick-making ovens have also been constructed in Gasorwe commune in Muyinga and in Ngozi. A health centre has been repaired at Cumba in Muyinga.

CRS activities CRS has completed the second phase of its community rehabilitation project in which 393 of 400 houses have been constructed in Rutana and Muramvya. Doors and windows have been provided as well as cement to reinforce the walls and foundations and to build latrines. During phase 3 of the community reintegration project contact will be made with dioceses and local administrators, ministries and donors to identify the number of houses to be constructed during the next phase which is expected to last two years and will be of larger scale. CRS food and non food distributions continued in March with 23,388 people receiving non-food items (including 957 pieces of plastic sheeting, 5,701 blankets, 3,940 pieces of soap, 4,758 jerry cans, 2,500 pieces of used clothing, 616 pagnes (local cloth) and 300 mats) mainly in Bubanza, Bujumbura, Bururi, Kayanza, Makamba, Ngozi. For the most part, the groups targeted included vulnerable IDPs and patients from supplementary and therapeutic feeding centres and regrouped populations. 180 vulnerable patients in Muramvya also received 1.5 mt corn flour, .25 mt of beans and 2.22 mt of biscuits. CRS also held a meeting with its partner Caritas and staff from beneficiary health structures in order to discuss the importance of reporting how drugs were used. It was also stressed that drugs provided via CRS were meant to be distributed free of charge.

IFRC distributions Some of IFRC's recent activities included a non-food distribution to sites in Bubanza (Nabubu, Gitovu, Gahangore, Nkangaza, Giko) that took place from 25 to 28 March. A total of 3,567 blankets, 633 jerrycans, 2,960 cooking sets, and 7,572 kg of soap were provided.

WFP assistance to Bujumbura rural Following assessments carried out at Mageyo, Mubimbi commune, Muyira, Kanyosha commune and Ruyange, Isale commune, WFP distributed food rations on April 13 and 14 to just over 20,000 beneficiaries.

UNHCR training sessions UNHCR is planning to hold training sessions for local authorities in all the provinces to raise awareness of UNHCR's mandate as well as of specific issues such as vulnerability, UAC and human rights. Approximately 30 sessions are expected to take place until the end of the year.

This bulletin is prepared by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Bujumbura, Burundi. It is compiled from input received from humanitarian organisations working in Burundi. Tel: (257) 218034 or 219157/8 Fax: (257) 218035 E-mail:


Date: Fri, 16 Apr 1999 18:13:01 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: BURUNDI: OCHA-Burundi Information Bulletin 1-15 April [19990416]

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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