Mark Durkan – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Mark Durkan on 2016-03-07.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps the Government plans to take in the event of a continued deterioration in the political and security situation in Burundi.

James Duddridge

The UK Government is extremely concerned about the situation in Burundi. We remain committed to supporting efforts to end the crisis and broker a peaceful solution as soon as possible. We have played an active role in ensuring that the international community maintains the pressure on the Government of Burundi to stop the cycle of violence and participate meaningfully in dialogue.

On 17 December I visited Burundi at the end of a three day visit to the region also including stops in Uganda and Rwanda. I used the visit to highlight the deteriorating situation, condemn the violence, and urge all parties, including regional players, to take concrete steps together to find a political solution. On 22 January the UK participated in a UN Security Council Visit to Burundi which delivered a similar, united message. On 27 and 28 January I attended the African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa. In my various meetings at the Summit, including with AU Chairperson Madam Zuma, AU Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui and a range of other regional leaders, I stressed the importance of the AU continuing to lead the international response to the deteriorating situation. The UK has led efforts to put into place EU sanctions against four human rights offenders. Should Burundi continue to refuse to engage in dialogue and the political and security situation continue to deteriorate, we will push for further EU sanctions against those blocking progress towards peace. On 14 March the EU announced the suspension of its direct development funding to the Burundian Government.

The UK is the second largest bilateral donor to the regional refugee crisis. In Tanzania, Department for International Development (DFID) is providing £14.5 million and in Rwanda £6.9 million to support refugees. DFID is also supporting the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) to strengthen humanitarian coordination in Burundi. We are also planning to enhance the British Embassy Liaison Office (BELO) in Bujumbura with a joint DFID and FCO Burundi Coordinator who will support the UK’s non-resident Ambassador to Burundi and ensure that the UK is represented on the ground.

We are also working with our partners, including at the UN and AU, to ensure that the international community is ready to respond should the security situation in Burundi deteriorate rapidly. We stand ready to contribute to an international intervention, should the need arise.