UN: Burundi human rights disaster

The human rights situation in the tiny central African nation of Burundi has been described by a UN official as catastrophic.

    Burundi armed forces personnel among rights abusers, says UN

    Emerging from 11 years of war, Burundi's citizens are not enjoying the fruits of peace, said the human rights chief for the United Nations Operation (ONUB), Ismail Diallo.

     

    "Frankly speaking, the human rights situation in Burundi is catastrophic," said Diallo.

     

    "In the reports that I receive, not a day goes by without cases of murder, rape, brawls or abuse," he told reporters on Thursday at ONUB's weekly news briefing in the capital Bujumbura.

      

    "There is no day without such cases in the hills of Burundi and what is worse is that it is armed men who perpetrate these acts on defenceless civilians," he said. 

      

     

    Although Diallo did not offer specific statistics of such abuses, he accused the Burundi armed forces, rebel and ex-rebel groups of being the chief perpetrators.

     

    Ceasefire accords

     

    Six of Burundi's seven rebel groups have signed ceasefire agreements with the government and of the country's 17 provinces, 16 are now peaceful.

      

    The war killed 30,000 people,
    mostly civilians

    But the country continues to struggle to recover from the war that killed some 300,000 people mostly civilians according to UN estimates and is still in a transitional phase with elections scheduled for May.

      

    ONUB was formed last year to support and help implement the efforts undertaken by Burundians to restore lasting peace and bring about national reconciliation.

     

    No imposition

     

    A spokesman for ONUB's military component, Adama Diop, said the operations has thus far deployed 5,371 of an expected 5,650 troops in Burundi from about 50 countries.

      

    However, Diallo said the UN security presence could not impose respect for human rights on soldiers and rebel forces.

      

    "If we have an army and a police force, it is not meant to forcefully instill human rights," he said, appealing for Burundi's community leaders to join with local media and others to hold the country to higher standards.

      

    "By combining our efforts, we can make the country's authority to take decisions that will ensure respect of human rights," Diallo said.

    SOURCE: AFP


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