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Draft UN resolution calls for ‘urgent’ probe of Burundi abuses

A draft resolution introduced at the UN rights council on Monday called for an investigative team to be deployed to Burundi “as soon as possible” to probe abuses in the crisis-hit country.

The resolution will be debated at an extraordinary meeting of the council on Thursday which was requested by the United States to review deteriorating unrest in Burundi, where mounting violence has sparked fears of a civil war.

The draft calls for United Nations rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to “deploy urgently and as soon as possible a mission…to undertake a diligent and thorough investigation on violations and abuses of human rights” in Burundi.

The draft further requests that Zeid’s office “be provided with all necessary resources to fulfil this mandate,” which includes permission from Burundi’s government for outside experts to work in the country.

Burundi on Friday saw some of its worst violence in months of political unrest, with 87 people killed.

Burundi’s crisis has included a failed May coup, sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in office, which he later won in disputed elections in July.

UN figures released before Friday’s violence showed at least 240 people had been killed and more than 200,000 had fled abroad since May, raising fears of a return to civil war, a decade after the end of a 1993-2006 conflict between rebels from the Hutu majority and an army dominated by minority Tutsis.

Some 300,000 people were killed in the war, which began a year before a genocide of mostly Tutsis in neighbouring Rwanda.

In Kigali, a report Monday from a US-based advocacy group said Burundian refugees in Rwanda were being recruited into rebel groups.

Refugees International said that men and boys in Rwanda’s Mahama camp, run by the United Nations and Rwandan authorities, were being recruited into “non-state armed groups” and faced threats if they refused.

It added that the Burundian recruits are trained in Rwanda and efforts are made to send them back to Burundi via neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.