Reports Of Mass Graves And Gang Rapes As Fears Of Genocide In Burundi Increase
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Friday that Burundian security forces committed gang rapes and other human rights violations during an December 11 raid against opposition supporters’ houses.
The government, which is mostly Hutus, has increased its targeting of the opposition Tutsis in a situation reminiscent of the Rwandan genocide of the early 1990s.
The conflict has progressively worsened since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision in April to run for a third term, a move that was criticized by opponents as unconstitutional.
“The increasing number of enforced disappearances, coupled with allegations of secret detention facilities and mass graves is extremely alarming,” Mr. Zeid warned.
A memo sent to the Security Council from Herve Ladsous, the chief of the UN’s peacekeeping forces, expressed concern that the body is not equipped to deal with a potential genocide in Burundi, reports Reuters.
“United Nations peacekeeping is limited in its ability to address significant violence against civilians, even violence amounting to genocide where it lacks a political framework or the strategic consent of the host-nation and/or the main parties in the conflict,” the memo said.
He wrote that the deployment of peacekeepers to the East African country would be a “last resort” if the conflict intensifies, but added that a “truly worst-case scenario will result in a scale of violence beyond the United Nations capacity to protect.”
The signs of genocide should have been evident to Ladsous, who was deputy head of the French Mission at the UN during the genocide in Rwanda.
“If this kind of discouraging message is coming from the UN’s top echelon, then there is reason to worry for Burundi. If the UN is scared of deploying troops on the ground, the least it could do is to compel Burundi to accept the deployment of African Union peacekeepers,” asserted an editorial posted on AllAfrica.com.
The Security Council would have to approve any dispatch of UN troops to the region.