29/06/2001
Press Release
SC/7089



Security Council

4341st Meeting (AM)


SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR SUSPENSION OF HOSTILITIES,


START OF NEGOTIATIONS IN BURUNDI


In a presidential statement, the Security Council this afternoon called for an immediate suspension of hostilities in Burundi, and called on the armed groups to enter into negotiations.


The Council reiterated its profound concern at the continuation of the conflict in Burundi and its toll on the civilian population.  It stressed its support for the Arusha process and the efforts of the Facilitator, Nelson Mandela.


The Council also expressed grave concern at continuing human rights abuses and violations of humanitarian law, and stressed the need for all parties to ensure respect for human rights and humanitarian law.  In particular, it urged the belligerents to commit themselves immediately to the protection of civilians.


The Council reiterated its call to the donor community to increase its humanitarian and development assistance to the people of Burundi, in keeping with their pledges given at the Paris Donor Conference on 11-12 December 2000.


The presidential statement was read by Anwarul Karim Chowdhury of Bangladesh, the current President of the Council.


At the start of the meeting, the Council President brought to the attention of the Council the death of Alioune Blondin Beye, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Angola, two years ago, on 29 June 1998.  He commemorated his valuable services to the United Nations and the cause of peace and conveyed to the family the Council’s gratitude for his services.


The meeting started at 12:26 p.m. and adjourned at 12:33 p.m.


Presidential Statement


The full text of the statement by the Council President, to be issued as S/PRST/2001/17, reads as follows:


“The Security Council calls for an immediate suspension of hostilities in Burundi.


“The Security Council calls on the armed groups to enter into negotiations.


“The Security Council reiterates its profound concern at the continuation of the conflict in Burundi and its toll on the civilian population.  In that context, the Security Council stresses once again its support for the Arusha process and the efforts of the Facilitator, Nelson Mandela.


“The Security Council strongly emphasizes to the parties to the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi (Arusha Agreement) the need to implement all the immediately applicable provisions of the Agreement, including the provisions for the establishment of new institutions.


“The Security Council calls upon the parties to the Arusha Agreement to continue searching, together with all parties concerned, a solution to outstanding issues in the Agreement.


“The Security Council expresses grave concern at continuing human rights abuses and violations of humanitarian law, and stresses the need for all parties to ensure respect for human rights and humanitarian law.  In particular, it urges the belligerents to commit themselves immediately to the protection of civilians, in particular their life, physical integrity and the means necessary for their survival.  It also reiterates its call for safe and unhindered access for the delivery of humanitarian aid to all people in need.


“The Security Council encourages the Secretary-General through his Representatives to continue to engage the armed groups and contribute to coordinated efforts to bring about a political settlement of the conflict.


“The Security Council reiterates its call to the donor community to increase its humanitarian and development assistance to the people of Burundi, in keeping with their pledges given at the Paris Donor Conference on 11-12 December 2000.


“The Security Council remains actively seized of the situation in Burundi and, in this context, will continue to receive regular reporting from the Secretariat on developments in and around the country.  The Security Council stands ready to consider, in the light of progress in the above areas, further contributions to the peace process, and the implementation of the Arusha Agreement.”


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 threatening 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 (UNOB) 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 and 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.


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, United Republic of 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 Burundian 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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