A Framework For Responsible Aid To Burundi
A Framework For Responsible Aid To Burundi
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
A Perilous Free-for-all in the Eastern DR Congo?
A Perilous Free-for-all in the Eastern DR Congo?
Report 57 / Africa 3 minutes

A Framework For Responsible Aid To Burundi

Within the last two months, thanks to the active engagement of the facilitation team, Burundi's peace process has exceeded expectations. Momentum has never been so strong since the civil war began ten years ago.

Executive Summary

Within the last two months, thanks to the active engagement of the facilitation team, Burundi’s peace process has exceeded expectations. Momentum has never been so strong since the civil war began ten years ago. On 3 December 2002, the transitional government led by President Buyoya signed a landmark ceasefire agreement with the Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie – Forces de défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) of Jean-Pierre Nkurunziza. This complemented the ceasefire reached two months earlier with two minor rebel groups (the CNDD-FDD faction led by Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye and the PALIPEHUTU-FNL faction led by Alain Mugabarabona). On 27 January 2003, the government and the three rebel groups signed an additional memorandum of understanding establishing a Joint Ceasefire Commission and setting a date for the return of Mugarabona and Ndayikengurukiye to Burundi. An African Union force with South African, Ethiopian and Mozambican troops is to be deployed in the next few weeks.

For months the absence of a ceasefire was used by the international community as an excuse not to resume aid and by the transitional government to justify not implementing the reforms demanded by the Arusha peace accords signed in August 2000. Donors have also demanded progress in Arusha implementation to release aid, while the government has claimed it needs money to carry out the political reforms. Now that a ceasefire is in place, most donors argue that they first want to see a complete stop of the violence and the changeover from President Buyoya to Vice President Ndayizeye go as scheduled on 1 May 2003 before they open their purses. This prudence, however, has become counter-productive.

True, Burundi is not yet stable. The transitional government has not implemented the Arusha reforms; the PALIPEHUTU-FNL of Agathon Rwasa still rejects the talks; a comprehensive reform of the security sector remains to be agreed upon, and the disarmament and cantonment process has not yet started. Marginal violence by Hutu rebels and resistance to change among the Tutsi oligarchy will likely remain strong even with a comprehensive ceasefire. But ICG believes that now is the time for donors to play their essential role in building peace. The delivery of peace dividends will signal their commitment to the process, give the CNDD-FDD fighters an incentive to accept the disarmament and reintegration process (DDRRR) and the PALIPEHUTU-FNL an incentive to negotiate. It will also give donors the necessary leverage to pressure the transitional government on reforms. Political support for the May presidential changeover and responsible, well-controlled and coordinated aid can isolate spoilers, help consolidate the credibility of the transitional government, and fuel positive change.

The Burundian people, economy, and state structures have suffered heavily from a decade of fighting, a three-year embargo, drought, the abandonment of much of the population by the state, and a 66 per cent decrease in international aid. GDP fell by 20 per cent in this period and is third from the bottom in the 2002 UN human development index; primary school enrolment dropped in the same period from 70 per cent to 28 per cent, and infant mortality is back to its 1960 level. The end of the war requires the reintegration into a traumatised and disorganised society of 70,000 ex-combatants, the cost of which the World Bank estimates at U.S.$90 million, as well as of 1.2 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

That more national donor cooperation is feasible at this stage has been demonstrated by the success of substantial community development and reconstruction programs (schools, health centres, homes, water sources) run by UNDP, the World Bank, and the EU. The UN and the transitional government are preparing plans for reconstruction and the reintegration of refugees, and some early peacebuilding programs are expanding rapidly. The EU funded distribution of food to the rebels in December 2002 so that they would stop preying on civilians – a specific example of how the international community can directly advance the peace process. Reform-minded individuals within the transitional government need international support to push change forward. Burundians are desperate for resources and are likely to accept the structural reforms necessary to receive this assistance if it is tangible and at hand. In return donors should demand a reduction in military expenditure and an immediate cessation of speculation on coffee income and monetary exchange.

A donor coordination unit should be established in Burundi to liaise with the transitional government in developing a joint strategy for implementing Protocol IV of the Arusha Agreement, which provides a roadmap for economic aspects of the post-conflict period.

Nelson Mandela said, at the first donors conference in December 2000, that “It must be possible for the people of Burundi to materially distinguish between the destructiveness of conflict and the benefits of peace.” It is time to pick up the leadership mantle that Mandela passed to donors and the UN. As the facilitator of the new ceasefire accord, Jacob Zuma, said in December 2002, “Regional efforts had achieved much progress in Burundi, but a complete peace could not be achieved without the full support of the international community”.

Nairobi/Brussels, 21 February 2003

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