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P R E S S   R E L E A S E

For immediate release : 30 July, 1996

ICG: "Act now to stop the killing in Burundi"

As Burundi's crisis deepens, the International Crisis Group (ICG) is stepping up pressure on key governments and the United Nations to take swift, decisive action to bring the situation under international control.

"It is scandalous that world leaders have not done more to stop the continuing killings in Burundi", ICG president Nicholas Hinton said in London today. "Burundi is a country steadily slipping towards genocide before our eyes and we have so far failed as an international community to find the courage and the will to do what is within our means to prevent it happening."

"Early last week, the United States Department of State issued a grave warning to the Burundi military that the US would under no circumstances tolerate the removal of Burundi's ethnically-mixed government and the installation of a military junta. Within days the old government in Burundi was overthrown and a new "president" had grabbed power. Amazingly, the US and other countries now say it is too soon to react and even suggest that maybe the coup was not such a bad thing after all.

As the world hesitates, ethnic violence is intensifying on the ground. Far from stabilising the situation, the military take over seems to have cleared the way for a deadly new round of blood-letting. The attacks by the Tutsi army on Hutu villagers in Kirimbi and Ndube suggest a new terror campaign is already underway while Hutu militias prepare for an onslaught on a government they see as wholly illegitimate.

"The International Crisis Group has long argued that the international community should be ready and prepared to intervene forcefully in Burundi in the event that genocide starts there. Now is not the moment to hesitate. To do so would be to waste what may be the last chance we will get to step in and stop Burundi sliding into an appalling genocide on a scale similar to that which overtook neighbouring Rwanda in 1994.

"The United States, Europe and other countries in a position to help, should immediately commit themselves to providing the necessary financial and logistical support for a multinational intervention in Burundi. A powerful, well equipped, force of African troops, backed by the West, should be assembled and deployed in Burundi as soon as possible. Its mandate should be to deter violence, protect refugees and restore security to towns and major economic centres.

"The International Crisis Group will be urging the US, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the European Union and other countries to support a preventive military deployment in Burundi. In addition, a team of high-profile members of the ICG board will be heading to the region shortly to meet regional leaders and discuss ways in which the international community can help prevent a worsening of the crisis and contribute to its resolution".

For further information call Charles Radcliffe on 0171-630-5673 or send e-mail here

The International Crisis Group is a private, multinational organisation created to reinforce the capacity and resolve of the international community to prevent crises arising from human causes. Members of the ICG board include former heads of state and government, foreign ministers, MPs and leading figures in business and the media. ICG is chaired by the former US Senate majority leader, George Mitchell.

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