UN to deploy police officers in Burundi

The observer

The International community has authorized the deployment of UN police officers to monitor the security situation in Burundi.

This follows the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on Friday, with 11 of the 15 members voting in favour of the deployment. The resolution authorizes the establishment of a 228-strong UN police component in Burundi for an initial period of one year.

Burundi has been engulfed in a crisis since April 2015, following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to stand for a controversial third term. The political impasse has also generated human rights violations and the officers will support observers in monitoring the situation.

Hundreds of people have been killed and more than 270,000 Burundians have fled to neighbouring countries.

UN Police officers

François Delattre, French ambassador to UN and drafter of the resolution, said that with the increase in violence and tension, the Security Council will be able to monitor and avert further deterioration of the security situation in Burundi through the deployed police force.

“Given an increase in violence and tension, the Security Council must have eyes and ears on the ground to predict and to ensure that the worst doesn’t occur in Burundi. By helping to reassure the population, this police presence must help bring down the amount of tension and help to ensure a peaceful dialogue can be held. It will also help to warn the Council if the situation further deteriorates”

The resolution urges the Burundian government and stakeholders to cooperate fully with the UN police component. It was earlier reported that the Burundian government would only accept no more than 50 UN police officers.

Meanwhile, the Security Council also extended for two weeks, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), allowing time for its membership to consider options on adapting the operation’s mandate amid renewed violence in the world’s youngest country.

With the mandate of UNMISS set to expire in 48 hours, the Council unanimously approved a short extension – through to 12 August – by a resolution that also authorized the Mission “to use all necessary means to carry out its tasks.”

The Council’s action comes as violent clashes between rival factions loyal to President Salva Kiir and first vice president (now sacked) Riek Machar have, since early July, lead to deaths of hundreds and sent thousands of civilians fleeing the capital, Juba.

UNMISS compounds and civilian protection sites have been attacked. The UN refugee agency has reported that thousands of South Sudanese, mostly women and children, have crossed into Uganda since fighting erupted, including an estimated 8,337 refugees on 21 July, setting a single-day record since the influx began in 2016.