02/03/2001
Press Release
SC/7002



Security Council                                            SC/7022

4285th Meeting (PM)                                          2 March 2001


IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, SECURITY COUNCIL STRONGLY CONDEMNS RECENT ATTACKS


IN BURUNDI, ALSO CONDEMNS DELIBERATE TARGETING OF CIVILIAN POPULATION


The Security Council this afternoon strongly condemned recent attacks by armed groups in Burundi, particularly those launched on Bujumbura by the Forces for National Liberation.  It did this, and called for the immediate cessation of those attacks, through a presidential statement, made by its President for March, Valeri P. Kuchynski (Ukraine) (to be issued as document S/PRST/2001/6).


In the statement, the Council noted that the timing of those actions was of particular concern since they were launched during a meeting of parties to the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement (the Arusha Agreement) on Burundi, convened by facilitator Nelson Mandela on 25 February in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania.


The Council condemned the deliberate targeting of the civilian population by the armed groups and called upon all parties to refrain from any further military action that would endanger the civilian population.  It also called on all parties, including the armed groups, to engage in dialogue immediately, so as to allow an early cessation of hostilities and agreement to be reached on a permanent ceasefire.


The statement stressed the importance of providing urgent humanitarian assistance to civilians displaced by the hostilities, and called upon all parties to guarantee safe and unhindered access by humanitarian personnel to those in need.


The Council also reaffirmed its full support for the continuing efforts of the facilitator and the Regional Initiative to bring peace to Burundi, and emphasized the role of the Implementation Monitoring Committee in advancing the peace process.  It reiterated its readiness to consider practical ways in which it could best support the peace process and the implementation of the Arusha Agreement.


The meeting, which began at 4:04 p.m., was adjourned at 4:12 p.m.


The full text of the statement is as follows:


"The Security Council strongly condemns the recent attacks by armed groups in Burundi, particularly those launched on Bujumbura by the Forces for National Liberation (FNL).  The timing of these actions is of particular concern since they were launched during the meeting of the parties to the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement (the Arusha Agreement) on Burundi convened by the Facilitator, Nelson Mandela, on 25 February 2001 in Arusha, Tanzania.  The Council calls for the immediate cessation of these attacks.


"The Security Council expresses its strong disapproval of all acts aimed at undermining the peace process in Burundi.  The Council urges all sides to exercise restraint and to refrain from any action that may exacerbate the situation.


"The Security Council condemns the deliberate targeting of the civilian population by the armed groups and calls upon all parties to abide by international humanitarian law and in particular to refrain from any further attacks or any military action that endangers the civilian population.


"The Security Council reiterates its call on the FNL and the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) to cease hostilities immediately and to join the peace process.  The Council recalls the meeting in Libreville on

9 January 2001 between the President of the Republic of Burundi and the leader of the FDD and urges the continuation of this process.  The Council calls on all the parties, including the armed groups, to engage in dialogue immediately so as to allow an early cessation of hostilities and to reach agreement on a permanent ceasefire.


"The Security Council stresses the importance of providing urgent humanitarian assistance to civilians displaced by the hostilities, and calls upon all parties to guarantee safe and unhindered access by humanitarian personnel to those in need.  The Council reiterates its request to the donor community to help the Government, United Nations agencies and the humanitarian community to respond effectively to the needs of the population.  The Council also urges donors to deliver on the commitments made at the Paris Donors Conference on 11 and 12 December 2000.


"The Security Council takes note of the scheme for power-sharing arrangements among parties to the Arusha Agreement worked out by the fourteenth Summit Meeting of the Regional Peace Initiative on Burundi, held in Arusha, Tanzania on 26 February 2001 and calls on all the parties to reach early agreement on the outstanding issues related to the transitional power-sharing arrangements and to give their full cooperation to the Facilitator.


"The Security Council stresses that the key to achieving lasting peace in Burundi lies with the Burundian parties.  It is convinced that compromise is the only means to resolve the conflict, and to this end urges all parties to work towards settling outstanding differences over the peace accord, and to proceed to its implementation.


"The Security Council reaffirms its full support for the continuing efforts of the Facilitator, the Regional Peace Initiative and the Implementation Monitoring Committee to bring peace to Burundi.  The Council also emphasizes the role of the Implementation Monitoring Committee in advancing the peace process.  It takes note of the communiqué of the fourteenth Summit Meeting of the Regional Peace Initiative on Burundi held in Arusha, Tanzania on 26 February 2001.  It also reiterates its readiness to consider practical ways in which it can best support the peace process, and the implementation of the Arusha Agreement.


"The Security Council will remain seized of the matter."


Background


Long-standing internal conflict in Burundi led, in 1993, to a coup attempt in which the first democratically elected President, a Hutu, and six ministers were killed.  Fighting between the largely Tutsi army and Hutu rebels followed, resulting in massive internal displacements of people and threatened to further destabilize the already-unstable region.  An estimated 200,000 people died in Burundi’s civil war.


Over the years, the United Nations has been actively involved in a good offices mission in Burundi.  A United Nations Office in Burundi was established in 1993, at the request of the Security Council, to support initiatives aimed at promoting peace and reconciliation in the country.  Despite all efforts by the international community, the peace process has made little progress.  The security and humanitarian situation has continued to deteriorate, although calls for the dismantling of Government regrouping camps resulted in a commitment by the Government of Burundi to do so in January 2000, and the dismantling process had commenced by February of that year.


The facilitator of the Burundi peace process, appointed by African heads of State, is former South African President Nelson Mandela.  In January 2000, the Secretary-General appointed Berhanu Dinka (Ethiopia) as his Special Representative for the Great Lakes region.


Intensive efforts by Mr. Mandela led, on 28 August 2000, in Arusha, Tanzania, to the signing of a Peace and Reconciliation Agreement by most of the parties.  Mr. Mandela, supported by the United Nations and by statements from the Security Council, has since made efforts to encourage those Burundi movements and groups that have not signed the agreement to sign it.


The humanitarian suffering in Burundi has continued unabated.  Hundreds of thousands have died as a result of the conflict between Government and rebel forces, and the number of Burundian refugees had reached 500,000 and is growing.  More than 800,000 people -- 12 per cent of the population -- are internally displaced.


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