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

For immediate release : 26 July, 1996

ICG calls for swift response to Burundi crisis

Following yesterday's coup in Burundi, the London-based International Crisis Group (ICG) issued a call for swift and resolute action by the international community to bring the crisis in Burundi under control and prevent genocide sweeping through the small central African republic.

ICG, whose members include former Heads of State, prime ministers and foreign ministers from around the world, has for the past four months been pressing governments and the UN to draw up detailed and actionable plans to intervene in Burundi in the event of a further worsening of the situation in the country. Commenting on the latest news out of the Burundi capital, ICG president Nicholas Hinton said:

"It is absolutely imperative that a strong-armed UN military force is sent into Burundi immediately to stave off a disaster there. The force's mandate should be to deter violence, protect refugees and restore security to towns and major economic centres.

"Already a potentially powerful multinational force of African troops is ready to go. However, for it to be deployed successfully, three elements, currently absent, will need to be supplied:

  1. US leadership� That is, an agreement by the US to take on responsibility for planning, organising and supporting such an operation

  2. Logistical back-up� Transportation, communications systems, intelligence, equipment and other forms of support need to be provided if the force is to have the backbone it needs to succeed in the difficult circumstances it will face

  3. Money� The troops are ready to go, the US and Europe have signalled their willingness to provide logistical back-up, but the operation will not get off the ground if no-one is prepared to step forward and help pay for it.

"I appeal to the countries of Europe, including the United Kingdom, and to the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and the other countries of the developed world to chip in however much is necessary to pay for this intervention. If you don't do it, you will face a much greater cost in the coming months as Burundi spirals into genocidal chaos and massive emergency humanitarian aid programs become necessary. More to the point, if we don't do what is blatantly within our power to help prevent a catastrophe overtaking Burundi we will have the deaths of hundreds of thousands on our consciences. It happened last time in Rwanda and afterwards everyone wrung their hands and said "We didn't know it was happening" or "We didn't know what to do". Well today, in Burundi, we do know what is happening and there is something we can do to stop it".

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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