New York

14 June 2005

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the situation of asylum seekers in Burundi and Rwanda

On 12 and 13 June, the Burundian and Rwandan authorities forcibly returned some 5,000 Rwandan asylum seekers to Rwanda in violation of international conventions regulating the treatment of asylum seekers. The repatriation of these asylum seekers follows a decision on 11 June by Burundi and Rwanda to consider Burundian and Rwandan asylum seekers as “illegal immigrants.”

The Secretary-General is seriously concerned about this action, which constitutes a violation of international law, particularly the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1974 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugees Problems in Africa. The Secretary-General also urges Burundi and Rwanda to follow due process in accordance with international law to facilitate the return of asylum seekers, including the 7,000 Burundian refugees still in Rwanda and the 700 Rwandan asylum seekers still in Burundi.