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Burundi: The Palipehutu-FNL undertakes to collaborate in the fight against antipersonnel mines

25th October 2006 | Burundi - Landmine ban

Burundi: The Palipehutu-FNL Undertakes to Collaborate in the Fight Against Antipersonnel Mines

Dar es Salaam/Geneva – 25 October 2006

At a meeting with Geneva Call in mid-October in Dar es Salaam, the President of the Parti pour la Libération du Peuple Hutu – Forces Nationales de Libération (Palipehutu-FNL), Mr. Agathon Rwasa, assured his movement’s commitment to collaborate fully in the fight against antipersonnel mines. “We condemn the use of antipersonnel mines and are willing to assist in identifying, marking and demining mined areas”, he said.

The commitment falls within the framework of the comprehensive ceasefire agreement signed on 7 September 2006 between the Government of the Republic of Burundi and the Palipehutu-FNL, which provides for the banning of any mine-laying operations and the hindrance of demining operations (article II, paragraph 1.1.3). Both parties are also required by the agreement to ensure that, before leaving their areas of operation, all mines and booby traps are reported, marked and deactivated.

Mr. Rwasa called upon all parties concerned to begin talks immediately on how to implement those articles. He also called upon the Government of Burundi to destroy its mine stocks and to adopt a law on the elimination of antipersonnel mines, providing for the setting up of a national mine action coordination centre.

“The Republic of Burundi is party to the Ottawa Convention and the collaboration of the last remaining armed movement still active today will help to speed up implementation of the treaty” said Elisabeth Reusse-Decrey, President of Geneva Call. “Every effort must now be made to rid Burundi of landmines and explosive remnants of war. In order for this process to produce tangible results as soon as possible, the various agencies, former combatants and other persons able to assist and share their knowledge of this problem need to be able to go the field as soon as possible to work together to fight landmines in a secure environment”, added Ms. Reusse-Decrey.

The presence of antipersonnel mines remains a constant threat to the civilian population, a hindrance to the return of refugees and a barrier to the reconstruction of Burundi. Since 1993, there have been almost 2,000 victims of mines and unexploded ordnance.

Geneva Call is an international humanitarian organization working to engage armed groups in the fight against antipersonnel mines and to comply with humanitarian norms. To date, 31 armed groups in Burma, Burundi, India, Iraq, the Philippines, Somalia, Sudan, Turkey and Western Sahara have joined the mine ban under Geneva Call.

For further information, please contact:
Elisabeth Reusse-Decrey +41 79 411 70 10 or info@genevacall.org