Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters Thursday that the council must keep the spotlight on escalating violence in the impoverished African nation, which he called “conflict prevention.”
President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek re-election last April touched off street protests that led to a failed coup in May and a rebellion that has left Burundi on the brink of civil war. Opponents and supporters of Nkurunziza in the capital, Bujumbura, have targeted each other in gun, rocket and grenade attacks, and the violence has spread to the provinces.
The U.N. estimates that more than 230,000 people have fled to neighboring countries since the street protests began and that over 430 people have been killed. Human rights activists blame government security forces for extrajudicial killings.
Security Council members visited Burundi last month to meet Nkurunziza and call for political dialogue and a larger international presence.
France’s U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said Wednesday that a new resolution “coming soon” will be aimed at helping to reduce violence and tensions, to spur a “truly inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue,” and to promote respect for human rights.
He said deploying U.N. police to Burundi “is potentially a productive idea.”
Rycroft said “it’s crucial that part of keeping the spotlight on the issue is about building up the U.N. presence in Burundi.”
He said the Security Council has to work with the African Union and the East Africa Community on mediation, potential monitors, and other aspects “that could even include a policing element.”
The Burundian government earlier rejected the proposed deployment of AU peacekeepers in the country, saying they would be treated as an invading force.