UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
BURUNDI: Annan recommends downsizing UN mission
NAIROBI, 24 Nov 2005 (IRIN) - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended to the UN Security Council the reduction of the size of the UN Operation in Burundi, known as ONUB.
"The military component of ONUB could begin its draw down in December with the withdrawal of one national contingent, he said in a report to Council issued on Monday.
"The phased withdrawal of two battalions, a level II hospital and an aviation unit from the provinces of Kirundo, Ngozi, Cankuzo, Ruyigi, Rutana, Makamba, Gitega, Karuzi and Muyinga could be completed from April to June 2006," he said. "Troops could also be withdrawn or redeployed from Mwaro, Muramvya and Bururi during the same period."
"This would result in a reduction of approximately 2,000 personnel, or 40 percent of the current authorised military strength of ONUB," he said.
He also proposed a reduction in military observers from 200 to 120 by the end of April 2006.
Earlier in November, the newly elected government asked a visiting Security Council mission that it place greater emphasis on reconstruction and development other than on peacekeeping in Burundi.
In his report Annan responded saying: "The views expressed by senior members of the government on the need for an early draw down of ONUB, in particular its military component, are understandable."
However, he added, "I would like to echo the cautionary message of the Security Council mission against a hasty or premature international disengagement."
He recommended that the mission be extend at least until May 2006.
"An immediate and most urgent priority is to ensure that the armed conflict with [the rebel Burundian Forces nationales de liberation] FNL is brought to an end," he said.
ONUB, he said, should remain temporarily deployed in the three border provinces where the FNL remained active: Bujumbura Rural, including the capital; Bubanza; and Cibitoke.
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