Burundi: OCHA-Burundi Information Bulletin 16-30, 5/5/99

Burundi: OCHA-Burundi Information Bulletin 16-30, 5/5/99

Humanitarian Operations in Burundi

Information Bulletin, 16 - 30 April 1999

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs


Presidents of Burundi and Rwanda issue joint communiqué Following a three day visit to Burundi by Rwandan President Pasteur Bzimungu, both Presidents issued a joint communiqué on April 17. The communiqué recommended the convening of a fourth meeting of the Rwanda-Burundi commission before the end of June 1999 and the pursuance of bilateral and regional cooperation. It also expressed concern over ongoing insecurity and the still prevalent ideology of genocide. The Presidents affirmed their commitment towards national reconciliation and a spirit of unity as well as stronger relations between the two countries.

UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva adopts resolution on Burundi On 23 April the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva adopted a resolution urging the Burundian Government to strengthen measures to fight impunity. It also expressed concern over the ongoing violence and continued reports of massacres. At the same time, the Commission voiced support for the progress made in the internal and external peace efforts and welcomed the lifting of embargo. The international community was urged to provide continued support to Burundi. The Commission also extended the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights for another year.

African Commission holds session on Human and Peoples' rights The 25th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' rights was held in Bujumbura from 26 April to 5 May. The session counted 200 participants including all signatories of the African Charter on Human Rights. The session was opened by Burundi's First Vice President and attended by OAU Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim. The latter also used the opportunity to meet with President Buyoya and the President of the National Assembly to whom he expressed his satisfaction over the growing cooperation between the different political parties.

First commission ends session in Arusha The First Commission charged with studying the nature of the Burundi conflict finalised its work in Arusha although delegates remained divided over historical interpretations such as the influence of the events in Rwanda in 1959. All commissions will reconvene on 11 May for two weeks. The fifth round of Arusha talks to be held in plenary session will take place in the latter half of June.

Appointment of Representative of the Secretary General for Burundi Mr Cheikh Tidiane Sy, formerly Director of the UN Office in Burundi, has been appointed the Secretary General's Representative for Burundi. The move intends to strengthen the UN's political role towards supporting the peace process in Burundi.

UN Special Envoy for DRC visits Burundi The UN Special Envoy for the DRC, Mr Moustapha Niasse, paid a familiarisation visit to Burundi from 21 to 22 April. He met with the Representative of the Secretary General, President Buyoya, the President of the National Assembly and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Visit by Executive Director of UNAIDS Mr Peter Piot, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, visited Burundi from 28 to 30 April. He met primarily with organisations working towards preventing the spread of HIV infection. He also visited displaced sites in Bubanza province accompanied by the Minister of Reinstallation and the Resident Coordinator.

Humanitarian Activities

Assistance provided to Ruyigi displaced Following a series of rebel attacks carried out against the civilian population in Ruyigi's Kinyinya commune at the beginning of April (see last bulletin), a joint evaluation mission visited the affected area on 21 April where the destruction of some 600 houses was confirmed. NFI were distributed to these and 463 further families who had been displaced from their homes. Oxfam GB coordinated the distribution which also included contributions from IFRC and CRS. 1,100 Burundians arriving from Ruyigi were registered in Kibondo camp in Tanzania by UNHCR. There were also unconfirmed reports of an additional 6,000 people arriving in the Kibondo area. In view of the insecurity, UNHCR has temporarily halted repatriation to Ruyigi.

Health coordination On 19 April, the Ministry of Health organised a coordination meeting attended by UN and NGO partners in an effort to re-launch information exchange and discussions of problems in the health sector. The group will also set up committees charged with reviewing specific issues in more depth. The meetings are scheduled to take place on a monthly basis.

Vulnerability identification through SFCs FAO, in collaboration with CAD, ACF and WFP, has initiated a vulnerability monitoring system in supplementary feeding centres in an attempt to identify populations most in need of assistance. From 15 May to 15 June, beneficiaries at participating centres will respond to a questionnaire asking about the family's origin, history of displacement, number of family members sharing a meal at night and working in the fields during the day. It will also inquire into the extent of the family's access to land and ability to cultivate.

Market prices fall slightly while value of Burundian Franc drops FAO continues to monitor market prices on a weekly basis. The price of an average family's food basket has fallen slightly since the lifting of the embargo to FrBU 10,088 at the end of April but still remains nearly twice as high as before the sanctions were imposed. (The food basket was valued at FrBu 10,555 at beginning of April and FrBU 5,228 before the imposition of the embargo in July 1996). However, at the same time the local currency has continued to devaluate with official and unofficial rates to the US Dollar reaching FrBu 537 and FrBu 775, respectively (as opposed to FrBu 317 and FrBu 350, respectively, before the embargo). The devaluation is linked to a severe shortage of foreign currency in the country.

Nutritional situation in Gitega shows gradual improvement Oxfam GB conducted an anthropometric and health survey from 2 to 10 March in Gitega province in collaboration with provincial health authorities, SCF UK and Solidarités. The study replicated similar surveys undertaken previously that sought to estimate the prevalence of acute malnutrition, crude mortality and measles vaccination rates in children aged 6 to 59 months. The final report outlined the following trends for the northern part of the province: Global malnutrition rates decreased from 23.8% in January 1998 to 12.9% in November 1998 to 6.9% in March 1999 while the severe malnutrition rate dropped from 6.5% to 2.0% to 0.9% during the same time period. For the southern part of the province the global malnutrition rate dropped from 13.3% in January 1998 to 8.3% in November 1998 to 7.4% in March 1999. During this time, the severe malnutrition rate also declined from 5.7% to 1.4% to 0.6%. It is thought that the gradual improvement is linked to a stabilisation of the security situation, improved harvests and the impact of Oxfam's feeding and food security programme. The mortality rate for children under five was found to be 0.38/day/10,000 in the north as opposed to 0.96/10,000/day in the south. Mortality rates for the total population were slated at 0.25/10,000/day in the north and 0.44/10,000/day in the south. According to vaccination cards carried by the mothers, 53.5% of the children were vaccinated in the north and 60.1% in the south. It was also gleaned that 72.6% of the women deliver at home in the north as opposed to 80.8% in the south. Since the prevalence of acute malnutrition was below 10%, the mortality rate did not exceed 1/10,000/day and there was no evidence of a measles epidemic, Oxfam recommends that the supplementary feeding programme be gradually replaced with a programme that transfers nutrition and hygiene skills to mothers, for instance through cooking demonstrations, nutrition and hygiene education and training for health centre staff.

OFDA workshop on livelihoods strategy OFDA organised a one day "lessons learned" workshop on 29 April to which members of the UN and NGO community were invited to reflect on new ways of thinking being developed in the field of humanitarian assistance. Since 1996, OFDA, in collaboration with Tufts University's Feinstein International Famine Centre, has been developing strategic guidelines for a Livelihoods approach which were subsequently applied through pilot projects in specific countries including Burundi. The strategy generally seeks to extend traditional emergency relief programmes towards a more comprehensive, longer-term approach that incorporates markets, assets and capacity building initiatives. The results derived from the seminar will assist OFDA in formulating funding strategies in complex emergencies.

Tear Fund Activities Tear Fund has been working in Kayanza province since June 1998 where it began implementing an integrated relief and rehabilitation programme in collaboration with local authorities. Activities include the rehabilitation of primary schools and health centres, the rehabilitation of water supply systems and latrines as well as public health education for teachers and students, for instance through the creation of parental hygiene committees. By January 1999, Tear Fund had rehabilitated six schools in Butaganzwa, Kabarore and Rango communes and repaired two water supply systems benefiting a total of 21,000 beneficiaries (8,000 in Banga-Buraniro and 13,000 in Gasenyi-Karama). Tear Fund also ensured the provision of clean water to the rehabilitated schools and constructed or rehabilitated 118 latrines. In addition, 400 benches were constructed and provided to the schools. Tear Fund is also introducing a new food security programme that will be implemented through already active local associations.

CAD nutrition workshops Children's Aid Direct, CAD, has been offering ten day workshops covering nutrition and hygiene education in Bubanza. This includes the balanced preparation of meals, cooking demonstrations, the treatment of ill children, general health issues, vaccinations and family planning. The workshops target a total of 800 women who are part of six women's associations created by CAD. CAD will hold a total of 40 workshops for 20 women per workshop which take place every two weeks. The enrolled women all have children registered at one of CAD's eleven SFCs. 300 women have attended since the workshops began in January. The effort is led by two trainers and supported by OFDA as part of a food security project. CAD has also initiated four poultry and milling projects as well as demonstration gardens at every health centre. The families of the children that receive supplementary feeding are provided with vegetable seeds and information on how best to cultivate. 7,000 children and 2,200 pregnant and lactating women are enrolled in CAD's feeding programme across Bubanza.

UNICEF activities In an effort to combat AIDS, UNICEF in collaboration with local associations has led an awareness campaign in 18 secondary schools and communal colleges in Bubanza and Bujumbura rural from 12 to 16 April. People already infected with HIV spoke to the students about the dangers of transmission. In collaboration with SCF and local health authorities, UNICEF also organised a traditional birth attendant training in Gitega. In addition, UNICEF will distribute 400 medical kits funded by ECHO to health centres in Cibitoke (50), Bubanza (45), Bujumbura rural (117), Bururi (127) and Makamba (63). The remaining 257 kits will be distributed to health centres where needs are not covered.

Distribution to sites in Bururi IFRC distributed NFI to 3,550 households or 16,150 beneficiaries in a number of sites in Bururi's Buyengero commune. The items distributed included plastic sheeting, blankets, jerry cans, cooking sets, clothing and soap.

Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 11:05:36 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: BURUNDI: OCHA-Burundi Information Bulletin 16-30 April [19990505]

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

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