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Thank you, Mr. President, and let me first of all also thank our briefers Mr. Kafando and Ambassadors Mohammed and Lauber for their excellent and comprehensive briefings. I would like to make five points.
First of all, Burundi’s unresolved political crisis, the volatile security situation and the subsequent regional tensions are deeply concerning. The threat to regional peace and stability is particularly visible with regard to the increased tensions and alarming troop movements of both Burundi and Rwanda in North and South Kivu in the DRC. It is a clear demonstration of the cross-border nature of Burundi’s political crisis; we call on all stakeholders to refrain from violence and not to engage in any kind of proxy war in the region.
Secondly, we are convinced that the most promising solution to Burundi’s crisis lies within the region. We commend Facilitator Mkapa’s relentless efforts in accompanying the inter-Burundian dialogue and bringing about a report and roadmap. We take note of the EAC Summit held earlier this month. It is now in the hands of the EAC to lead the inter-Burundi dialogue on a successful path – and we trust in the commitment and diligence of East African leaders, especially UGA, KEN and TZA in this regard. We encourage the AU to explore possibilities for further assisting the EAC in this process. All efforts should be targeted at creating a new impulse for continued negotiations and dialogue.
Thirdly, the announcement by the President of Burundi, H.E. Nkurunziza, not to seek reelection in 2020 is a positive step, but further serious commitment by national authorities is required to ensure free and fair elections in 2020. Free and fair elections are necessary for long-term stabilization and building trust among the population. We call on Burundi to open political space to different candidates and parties, as well as to ensure the independence of the National Electoral Commission. The registration of the CNL party, the Congrès National pour la liberté, last week is an encouraging step in this regard.
Fourthly, in light of Germany’s strategic focus on prevention and stabilization, we welcome the efforts of the PBC in this specific country configuration. The connection between PBC and Security Council is important and it is not a one way street. Jürg Lauber’s briefing is an excellent example of the added value of the advisory work of the PBC. Germany fully respects the sovereignty of Burundi, but we take the opportunity to express our deep concern about the persistently dire human rights situation in Burundi over the past weeks and months, which was also reflected in the last report by the SG from November 2018. Long-term political stability cannot be achieved without respect for human rights, and human rights are also an important part of the peacebuilding efforts. This is why we are deeply worried about the closure of the OHCHR office in Bujumbura as a signal of lack of interest in cooperation with internationally agreed mechanisms. We also follow the suspension of international NGOs with serious concern. A significant number of these have not re-registered; many of them plan to leave the country. This will make it increasingly difficult to effectively monitor the human rights situation on the ground and further limit the space for political actors, media and civil society. In this regard, we welcome monitoring through an AU mission of human rights observers and emphasize their important function and role (which we support through EU funding). We also value the investigative work of the Commission of Inquiry of the Human Rights Council and look forward to their update next month. We call on the government of Burundi to collaborate with the Commission of Inquiry.
Fifthly and lastly, Jürg Lauber has talked about the underfunding for humanitarian purposes. Let me just say that this is something that is also very important for us. Germany has increased its humanitarian assistance in Burundi to 15 million euros in 2018, with a focus on supporting internally displaced people and refugees. Development assistance is similarly important to protect the Burundi population from further destabilization; Germany contributed 24 million euros in 2018 to ensure the provision of basic services, including health and sanitation.
Thank you, Mr. President.