Security Council briefed on early findings of UN probe into Burundi refugee

“All the indications continue to be in that direction,” Ambassador Juan Antonio Yáñez-Barnuevo of Spain told reporters following a closed-door meeting that included an oral briefing on the UN investigation of the deadly attack.Ambassador Yáñez-Barnuevo said it was “very concerning” to learn that several groups from the Great Lakes region seem to have been involved.Eyewitnesses blamed elements of the Congolese Mayi-Mayi and FDLR (Rwandan ex-Armed Forces/Interahamwe) for the massacre at Gatumba refugee camp near Burundi’s border with the DRC.Burundi’s rebel National Liberation Front (FNL) had claimed immediate responsibility for the killings, in which 160 minority Congolese Tutsi, or Banyamulenge, refugees were murdered. Many of the corpses were mutilated, headless or burned beyond recognition, while mothers were clearly killed while trying to shield their children.While Mr. Yáñez-Barnuevo stressed that the Council only had the initial findings, he said its members were still deeply concerned that elements from several nations appeared to have been involved in the Gatumba massacre.In a separate statement on behalf of the Council, Mr. Yáñez-Barnuevo called for the immediate release of a Moroccan peacekeeper who has been abducted while serving with the UN Organization Mission in the DRC, known by its French acronym of MONUC.He appealed to all concerned to do their utmost to ensure the peacekeeper’s safety.Mr. Yáñez-Barnuevo said the Council also received a report on an inquiry by MONUC into the many violent events plaguing eastern DRC’s Ituri province in 2002 and 2003.While condemning the numerous violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Ituri, the report noted that the situation has started to improve over the past year with the help of MONUC’s Ituri Brigade and an operation conducted by European Union members, he said. read more