Security Council mission arrives in Burundi

Following a stop in war-torn Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), yesterday, the Security Council mission to West Africa, led by Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière of France, is now in the Burundian capital of Bujumbura, where they have meetings scheduled with Vice President Alphonse Marie Kadege and President Domitien Ndayizeye.Upon arrival in the capital yesterday, Ambassador de La Sablière made a statement in which he expressed his congratulations to the Burundian people and the various political parties and groups for the successful conclusion and signing of ceasefire agreements, according to a UN spokesman in New York.Ambassador de La Sablière also expressed the Council’s support for the peace process and invited armed movements, which have not yet done so, to join the process. Tomorrow, the Council delegation travels to Kigali, Rwanda, to meet with President Paul Kagame.The spokesman reported that during yesterday’s three-hour visit to Bunia, the delegation was briefed on the deployment of the Emergency Interim Multinational Force by its commanding officer, Gen. Jean Marie Thonier of France. A meeting with the members of the Ituri Pacification Commission (IPC) – which rival militia and tribal groups agreed to set up to manage the region until a new post-war national government takes over – was to reinforce the support of the international community to that democratically elected body. The last of the delegation’s meetings was with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the humanitarian community. They raised fears that Bunia could become a big camp for displaced people if the mandate of the Multinational Force is to exclusively secure that town and its surroundings. They encouraged the UN to put an end to impunity in Bunia as the only way to discourage further violence and human rights violations against the civilians.In other news, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that more than 1,300 Central African Republic (CAR) refugees from the northwestern DRC returned home when the agency launched a recent repatriation programme. The plan was initiated to assist some 2,600 CAR refugees in a camp at Mole, near the small town of Zongo on the Oubangui river.Daily truck convoys bring the refuges from Mole to Zongo, where they board UNHCR-contracted boats for a 10-minute ferry ride to the CAR capital of Bangui. Yesterday, the agency transported 500 refugees to Bangui and, if the current pace continues, the repatriation may be completed over the weekend. UNHCR added that CAR refugees from the Republic of the Congo have also begun to return, with an initial group of 57 flown home from Brazzaville earlier in the week. read more