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Summary: December 4, 2003: Commission grants EUR. 25 million to support African-led peace-keeping operations in Burundi (Brussels)
The European Commission today welcomed approval by EU Member states of a €25 million grant from the European Development Fund to support current peacekeeping operations in Burundi under the authority of the African Union (AU). The objective of the support is: (i) to offer urgent assistance to the implementation of a fragile peace process that has recently shown signs of positive development; and (ii) to promote a return to stability and national reconciliation to the benefit of the Burundian people, who have suffered tremendously from 10 years of civil war.
Poul Nielson, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian aid, said: “I see the instrumental role of leaders from South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Mozambique in brokering peace in Burundi as a confirmation of the determination with which African leaders are currently addressing conflict resolution on their continent. I believe that it is our firm obligation to lend our full support to these efforts. While the Burundian peace process remains fragile, it is offering encouragement on the prospects of a final peace settlement in Burundi. Not only to the benefit of the Burundian people but as an important contribution to the stabilisation of the Great Lakes region that has suffered tremendously from decades of war and conflict.”
About 2,800 peacekeepers are currently deployed in Burundi. The force consists of soldiers from South Africa (1,800), Ethiopia (800), and Mozambique (200). In addition to this, 120 military observers from the African Union are posted in Burundi. The €25 mio. aid package will cover: (i) operational costs of the peace keeping troops, including fuel, and medical expenses; (ii) daily allowances to the peace-keeping troops and the military observers.
Burundi has been deeply affected by armed conflict since the start of the civil war in 1993. An estimated 300,000 people have been killed in the course of the civil war, and an estimated 1.2 mio. Burundians are internally displaced (IDP) or have been seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.
Leaders from the sub-region and in particular South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda have paved the way for the peace process that led to the signing of the “Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation” in August 2000. Since then, ceasefire agreements have been signed with all but one armed opposition group. In February 2003, the African Union approved the deployment of peace-keeping troops from Ethiopia, Mozambique and South Africa in Burundi. These have been fully deployed since October 2003. The peacekeeping troops are overseeing the respect of the ceasefire agreements as well as the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process of thousands of combatants of all parties to the conflict.
The European Commission has previously provided food aid to combatants awaiting demobilisation as well as a 1.23 M€ grant to the deployment of military observers from the African Union in Burundi. Through its humanitarian aid office ECHO, in 2003 alone, the EC has allocated 15 M€ for humanitarian assistance to refugees and IDPs in the country.