UN Security Council convenes over Burundi, urges immediate talks and protection of human rights

Angry protestors torching tires and blocking roads in Bujumbura, during the course of anti-third term protests

Angry protestors torching tires and blocking roads in Bujumbura, during the course of anti-third term protests

The United Nations Security Council held an emergency session Thursday to discuss the worsening political crisis in Burundi and members called on leaders to immediately organise an internal dialogue bringing together all stakeholders in the crisis.

The council also warned authorities in Bujumbura those who participate in fueling the violence will be held accountable by the UN body.

All the 15-members voted unanimously adopting a new resolution expressing the council’s “intention to consider additional measures against all Burundian actors whose actions and statements contribute to the perpetuation of violence and impede the search for a peaceful solution.”

The Security Council resolution requests the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to dispatch a UN delegation to Burundi on a 2-week fact finding mission consulting with leaders in Burundi and the African Union and other players after which the team will report back to New York with some concrete recommendations on how UN can deploy peacekeepers in Burundi.

The UNSC resolution comes days after Scott Campbell, the UN Human Rights Head for West and Central Africa Office revealed Burundi is “slipping and sliding we believe, unfortunately, down a very ugly slope.”
Speaking in Geneva, Switzerland earlier this week, Mr. Campbell said “The (UN) Security Council is looking at how to react quickly should there be a need to move in forcefully with troops with preventive capacity.”

Over the last few weeks, the violence in Burundi has been deteriorating with bodies scattered in water bodies and roadways prompting regional and the international community to express concerns the Central African nation might be on the brink of a catastrophic civil war.

Recent political leaders’ statements also have drawn condemnation from many leaders and organisations who think the rhetoric is much similar to the one that preceded the Rwandan Genocide in 1994.

“Traumatized residents frequently discover mutilated bodies, victims of executions,” the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council this week.

The UN latest show of intent to act in Burundi follow the global body’s admission earlier this week that it is “less equipped” to help end the deadly violence in Burundi because it lacks personnel on the ground.

The body however, participated in observing the recent presidential, legislative and local elections saying the polls were not credible as the conditions on the ground did not permit for an inclusive, free and fair election.

The 7-month crisis has claimed nearly three hundred lives and hundreds of thousands have been displaced by the violence. Neighbouring countries of Rwanda, Tanzania, DRC and Uganda currently host about 200, 000 Burundian refugees.

In the course of this conflict, both the government in Bujumbura and the opposition have rejected UN-appointed mediators of the failed political talks. Still in August the East African Community leaders appointed President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda to broker the dialogue but there hasn’t been any progress regarding bringing all parties to the negotiating table.