18 August 2003



NEW YORK, 14 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the press statement on the situation in Burundi delivered by Security Council President Mikhail Wehbe (Syria):

The members of the Security Council received a briefing by the Secretariat on recent developments on the situation in Burundi.  They welcomed the relative calm that had returned to the country after the attack made on Bujumbura on 7 July 2003 by the Forces nationales de libération (Rwasa) and the release of the members of parliament held by the Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (Nkurunziza).

The members of the Council reiterated their condemnation of violence, in particular the atrocities committed against the civilian population and the use of children in warfare.  They called on the rebellions to give up the armed struggle and appealed to all parties to respect the rights of children.

The members of the Council reaffirmed the Council’s full support for the peace process of the Arusha Agreement of 28 August 2000 and for the quest by the Burundian parties for a political solution within that framework.

The members of the Council welcomed the commitments made by the parties concerned during their meeting in Dar es Salaam on 20 July and the role played in that connection by the Member States of the regional initiative on Burundi.  They encouraged the Burundian parties (in particular FDD-Nkurunziza) and the governments concerned, in particular those of neighbouring States, to make every effort to carry out those commitments.  They expressed the hope that the negotiations taking place would lead rapidly to the implementation of a comprehensive agreement in time for the next summit of the regional initiative.

The members of the Council reaffirmed their urgent appeal to the FNL-Rwasa rebels to enter without further delay into negotiations with the transitional government with a view to rejoining the peace process of the Arusha Agreement.  They strongly invited Member States of the regional initiative to use all their influence and pressure to compel this armed group to engage in peace talks.

The members of the Council reaffirmed their support for the African Mission deployed in Burundi by the African Union and their appeal to contributors who might be in position to provide the Mission with financial or logistic support.  In this regard they took note of the decisions adopted by the African Union Summit in Maputo and the central organ of the African Union mechanism for conflict prevention, management and resolution on 24 July 2003 in Addis Ababa.  They also took note of the letter dated 13 August 2003 addressed to the President of the Security Council by the Permanent Representative of Mozambique, representative of the current Chairman of the African Union.  In that connection, they welcomed the recent contribution of 25 million euros from the European Union and invited donors to continue to provide assistance to Burundi.

The members of the Council stated their concern at the humanitarian situation and called on all Burundian parties (including the Government) to facilitate the access of humanitarian agencies to populations in need.

The members of the Council reaffirmed that it was highly important for the Burundian parties to combat impunity and confirmed the readiness of the Council to consider possible procedures for international assistance to that end, upon the request of the Government of Burundi.

The members of the Council welcomed the resolution adopted on 17 July by the Economic and Social Council establishing an ad hoc advisory group on Burundi in the framework of its mechanism for African countries emerging from conflict.

The members of the Council paid tribute to the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and of the staff of the United Nations Office in Burundi and to the courage they had displayed, side by side with Burundians, in the particularly difficult situation recently experienced by that country.

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