- With the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Burundi set to expire today, the UN Security Council has renewed the operation for six months, until 1 June 2005. The Council further repeated its strong condemnation of the massacre earlier this year of 152 Congolese Tutsis at a refugee camp inside the country.
The UN Security Council today unanimously adopted a resolution urging all governments and parties concerned to denounce violence and incitement, condemn violations of human rights, and actively cooperate with efforts aimed at ending impunity.
The resolution thus indirectly also warns the government of Rwanda, which has threatened to resend troops into neighbouring Congo Kinshasa (DRC) to stop Congo-based Rwandan rebels that aim at slaughtering the region's Tutsi population. Rwanda and Burundi claim to have proof that these same rebels organised the killings at the Burundian refugee camp earlier this year.
On 13 August, 152 Congolese Tutsis were killed at the Gatumba camp in Burundi. In his latest report on the UN Operation in Burundi (ONUB), UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that extensive investigation had yielded no clear evidence of who organised and carried out the massacre. There was therefore no proof for the claims forwarded by the governments of Rwanda and Burundi.
The UN Security Council today said it was deeply troubled by the fact that a faction of the Burundian rebel Forces nationals de liberation, known as Palipehutu-FNL, had claimed responsibility for the Gatumba massacre. The Council expressed its intention to consider measures that might be taken against individuals who threaten peace and national reconciliation in Burundi.
At the same time, the Security Council requested ONUB, along with the UN peacekeeping mission in neighbouring Congo Kinshasa (MONUC), to continue to assist local authorities to investigate the massacre and to strengthening the security of vulnerable populations.
ONUB was established in May to help the people of Burundi restore peace and promote national reconciliation. With 5,525 uniformed personnel deployed in country, the mission is nearly up to its authorised strength of 5,650 military.
The UN peacekeepers strongly criticised by Burundians for failing to protect the Congolese refugees and other civilians in the country. ONUB was unable to stop the massacre at the Gatumba camp, but the mission has since that taken steps to prevent attacks on civilians.
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