Shocking New Report Provides Further Proof that Burundian Soldiers Do Not Belong in UN Peacekeeping
September 9, 2019: Our message on the crisis in Burundi has not changed. The United Nations will remain complicit in alleged crimes against humanity committed by forces of the Pierre Nkurunziza regime as long as it continues to deploy Burundian soldiers as UN peacekeepers.
On September 4, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Burundi released its latest report, reiterating that serious human rights violations "constituting international crimes" continue to be committed by Burundian government forces against people perceived to be internal opponents.
“Numerous cases of sexual violence have been documented; the majority of victims were women and girls. Such violence most often took the form of gang rape, …” the report said.
The Commission makes clear that “the Burundian State may be held responsible for the acts identified in the present report, which constitute human rights violations."
Yet the UN continues to deploy Burundian soldiers as peacekeepers. The UN pays some $13 million annually for the use of the 738 contingent troops from Burundi currently serving, as of July 31, in the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), providing Burundi's government with vital funds that represent nearly a quarter of its defense budget.
In so doing, the UN sends soldiers from a criminal regime into the civil strife of the Central African Republic, exposing vulnerable women and children to grave danger. Since 2015, 43 Burundian peacekeepers have been reported to the UN for allegedly raping or sexually abusing women and children.
The Commission of Inquiry report is making headlines for its warnings about the possibility of genocide in Burundi. The Commission identified several common risk factors for genocide as "clearly present in Burundi," including an unstable political environment; rampant impunity for human rights violations; weak state structures; the "existence of reasons, aims or drivers that justify the use of violence against particular groups"; and the clear capacity of potential perpetrators to commit atrocity crimes.
Among the potential indicators of genocide, according to the Commission, is "the increase in the number of serious acts of violence against women and children, or the creation of conditions that facilitate acts of sexual violence against them, including as a tool of terror."
Separately, the International Criminal Court (ICC) continues to investigate Burundi. The ICC found “reasonable basis to believe that the crime of rape as a crime against humanity” was committed by Burundian government forces “against women and girls perceived to be associated with or to sympathize with the opposition against the ruling party.”
The evidence couldn’t be clearer: Burundi doesn’t belong in UN Peacekeeping.
It has been firmly established that Burundian government forces commit sexual violence with impunity against innocent civilians, in their own country and beyond. Yet the United Nations is content to expose the women and children of the Central African Republic to “protectors” with such a record, even as the UN itself documents and warns about the soldiers’ state-sponsored atrocities at home. The Security Council has authorized the Secretary-General to send military peacekeepers back to their home countries “when there is credible evidence of widespread or systemic sexual exploitation and abuse,” according to Security Council resolution 2272.
And so we say again: The UN must remove Burundi from UN Peacekeeping.
(UN Photo / Stuart Price)