Bishop of Durham asks Government about response to conflict in Burundi

On 22nd February 2016 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received three written answers to questions about conflict and aid in Burundi.

Bp Durham June 2015 bThe Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have deployed, or intend to deploy, experts from the UK preventing sexual violence in conflict initiative team to help support local responses in Burundi to conflict related sexual violence. [HL5829]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: We take the allegations of sexual violence in Burundi very seriously. The UK has been at the forefront of supporting the UN’s efforts to encourage an end to violence and human rights abuses in the country.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge), has raised the subject with the Government of Burundi, including with the Burundian Foreign Minister at the African Union Summit in January. While we have not deployed any experts from the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative, Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials will explore the possibility of supporting non-governmental organisations already present and active in Burundi when the allegations first came to our attention.


The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to engage the African Union and the East African Community in efforts to stabilise the situation in Burundi. [HL5832]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: In the margins of the African Union (AU) Summit, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge), met with the Chair of the AU Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the AU’s Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui and a number of African Foreign Ministers. We are exploring what more we can do to support the AU’s leadership, and have intensified our efforts at the UN and with our EU partners to halt the violence. The UK strongly supports the East African Community led dialogue and sees it as crucial in finding a solution to stabilising the situation. The parties met for the first time on 28 December and the second round of talks is  scheduled for 16 February. Alongside our international partners we continue to press them to engage.


The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will consider re-opening the Department for International Development’s Office in Burundi. [HL5830]

Baroness Verma: In 2012, as part of its global review of bilateral programmes, DFID decided to focus its work in Burundi on the country’s integration into the East African Community (EAC) as the single most important factor for promoting economic growth. DFID has continued to provide support to Burundi, mainly through Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), a specialist agency which promotes trade growth in East Africa. DFID has contributed £16.5 million to TMEA for Burundi in the period 2010-2016. Burundi also receives contributions through multilateral organisations and funds. For example, through the Global Poverty Action Fund, we have also provided £500,000 for the provision of sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation for 139,000 people in Bujumbura Rural Province. DFID also provides central funding to UK NGOs, some of which work with local partners in Burundi.

Given the situation in Burundi, we are now looking to provide support in the form of secondments to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for needs assessment, information management, coordination and advocacy. Over 238,000 Burundians have become refugees since April 2015. The majority of those who have fled Burundi are concentrated in Tanzania and Rwanda, for which DFID has provided £18.15 million since April 2015.


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