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Burundi: “Keep hope alive,” UN expert urges international community to step up support

27 March 2024

GENEVA (27 March 2024) – A UN expert today urged the international community to reaffirm its support for Burundi to address human rights challenges, and engage with the Burundian Government and other actors to identify ways to further strengthen peace, democracy, security and the rule of law in the country.

“I welcome the support provided so far by the country’s bilateral and multilateral partners and urge them not to relent. Working constructively and proactively towards a better future for the people of Burundi must be our common goal,” said Fortuné Gaetan Zongo, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi, in a statement at the end of a 10-day visit to Rwanda.

During his visit, Zongo gathered information on the situation of Burundian nationals living in Rwanda through meetings with several actors and visited refugees camps.

The Special Rapporteur was able to assess first-hand information on the situation of Burundian refugees living in Rwanda and expressed his support: “Together, we can find durable solutions  and work towards a better future. Your resilience is an inspiration to all and I remain committed to supporting you,” he said.

“I encourage Burundian refugees not to lost hope during this difficult time,” the expert said.

Zongo commended the model of the Mahama refugee camp and said he hoped it would serve as a model camp.

“At such critical times, I urge United Nations agencies and other donor organisations to maintain or increase their engagement and not reduce funding to Burundian refugees,” the Special Rapporteur said.

Since his appointment, the Special Rapporteur has requested the Government of Burundi to be given access to visit the country. Due to a lack of response, the Special Rapporteur has decided to collect first-hand information from the Burundian diaspora and other stakeholders based in Rwanda.

The expert will present his annual report on the situation of human rights in Burundi to the Human Rights Council in September 2024 and to the UN General Assembly in October 2024.

Mr Fortuné Gaétan Zongo (Burkina Faso) is the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burundi. The UN Human Rights Council appointed him to this mandate on 1 April 2022 at the end of its 49th session. He will present his report to the fifty-fourth session of the Human Rights Council and to the United Nations General Assembly at its seventy-eighth session.

Special rapporteurs, independent experts and working groups are part of the so-called Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. The Special Procedures are the largest group of independent experts in the UN human rights system. It is the general name for the Council's independent investigative and monitoring mechanisms that deal either with specific country situations or thematic issues in all regions of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

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