Concerned over ongoing violence in Burundi, members of the Security Council today urged the parties to halt all attacks and pursue a process of dialogue aimed at ending the fighting.
In a press statement by the body's current president, Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom, Council members called on the signatories to the Arusha peace agreement to "refrain from any action that might compromise the progress already made, and might contribute to a further deterioration of the situation on the ground, which remains quite worrying."
The statement also urged the armed rebel groups that were not yet signatories to the Arusha Agreement to cease violence "and to pursue dialogue aimed at a cessation of the hostilities."
In what Ambassador Greenstock described as "an important ancillary point to our appeal," Council members encouraged regional leaders and the signatories themselves to "back up this message to the armed rebel groups to put down their weapons and enter the process of dialogue."
In addition, members of the Council condemned the recent acts of violence that have occurred on the ground in Burundi, including attacks on humanitarian workers and convoys. The parties were urged to observe international humanitarian law, to allow humanitarian workers access to those in need of assistance, and to refrain "from the kind of nasty attacks that we have witnessed in recent days," the President said.
On 2 April, a group of heavily armed rebels attacked a convoy of the World Food Programme (WFP) in south-eastern Burundi, injuring four relief workers.
Ambassador Greenstock also expressed strong support for the Facilitator of the Burundi peace process, former South African President Nelson Mandela, and for the efforts of regional leaders, particularly the Governments of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to support Mr. Mandela's activities.
The Arusha Peace agreement, which was originally signed last August, was described by Secretary-General Kofi Annan as a "comprehensive blueprint for the reform of the Burundian society." It addresses the root causes of the conflict, such as exclusion and genocide, as well as the tragic consequences of the war, including the plight of hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people.