20 November 2017

Burundi: Continuing Support for Burundi Political Process Only Way Forward, Security Council Told

Despite challenges towards inclusive dialogue in Burundi, the United Nations must continue to support the political process there, the Organization's envoy to the east African country told the Security Council on Monday.

"The United Nations has the obligation, whatever difficulties persist, to continue its good offices mission, alongside regional actors, to allow Burundi to emerge from crisis," Michel Kafando, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Burundi said Monday, presenting his regular quarterly briefing (in French) to the 15-member Council.

Mr. Kafando informed the Security Council that in supporting regional efforts to advance negotiations on the conduct of an inclusive intra-Burundian dialogue, he had met with national authorities, opposition figures both within the country and those exiled in Brussels, as well as regional actors, including the mediator, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda.

The mediator, as well as the dialogue facilitator and the Government of Burundi, have decided to convene a discussion between the Government and all other parties, including the opposition in exile, beginning next Monday (27 November).

The UN Special Envoy also informed the Council that Burundi's ombudsman to the dialogue maintains that proposed amendments to the constitution, including a provision for seven-year presidential terms, were in line with the Arusha Accords that ended Burundi's civil war during the 1990s.

Mr. Kafando further stated that the security situation in the country remains calm except for protests against the International Criminal Court (ICC)'s decision to open investigations into crimes against humanity committed in the country since 2015.

At the same time, demonstrators had denounced reports of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, torture, forced disappearance, degrading treatment, restrictions on freedom of association, intimidation and hate speech, he added.

Also briefing the Council today, Jürg Lauber, the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN and Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission's Burundi configuration, said that since his last briefing in July, he had held a number of meetings, including with Burundi's Minister for External Relations and International Cooperation.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Burundi had participated in a meeting of the configuration on 8 November, where he had characterized the situation in Burundi as one of "chronic vulnerability".

Mr. Lauber further reported that in discussions, national and international actors had highlighted Burundi's food security, health, education and energy challenges, while international partners were increasingly focusing on strengthening the people's resilience and immediate humanitarian needs.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance could reach 6 million people, while the response plan has less than half the funds it needs. The refugee response plan is also just 19 per cent funded.

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