Country Overview


Burundi’s conflict is rooted in reappearing tensions between the two main ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis, and has remained as a contention since the granting of independence from Belgium on July 1, 1962. Following numerous attempts in the 1960s and 1970s by the majority Hutu groups to oust the minority Tutsi dominated government and military, and with a continuous upsurge of killings in both circles, preliminary efforts towards national reconciliation emerged. In October of 1988 the Commission for National Unity was established which was set up to investigate past massacres and to bring Hutus and Tutsis together to carryout reform. In March of 1992 a referendum election was held for constitutional reform. In the election, 90% of the voters reacted positively towards constitutional reform measures and in June of 1993, Burundi witnessed its first democratically elected President, Melchior Ndadaye, who was a Hutu from the Front pour la democratie au Burundi (FRODEBU) party. However, this acquisition of power by the Hutu party and the new positive shift towards democratic governance in Burundi were short lived as Tutsis began to experience a loss of power. With plans to increase Hutu membership in the government and reformation in the national army, hostilities erupted soon after Ndadye entered office. With an increase in tension in the nation, conflict reemerged which cumulated with the assassination of Ndadye during a brutal coup by Tutsi army paratroopers on October 23, 1993, leading the country back into civil war.

The events in 1972 and 1993 triggered two major refugee waves, which increased the number of both Hutu and Tutsi internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the amount of refugees in the neighboring countries of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda and Tanzania. The years encompassing the civil war sparked the cross boarder migration of displaced persons and can be linked with the increased flow of illicit arms across the borders of Burundi and the DRC. The increase in IDPs, refugees and illicit arms transfers perpetuated the conflict while creating additional challenges for the establishment of an effective DDR strategy in Burundi. The following events influenced the civil war and often exacerbated the violence in the region.

On April 6, 1994, Ndadye’s successor, Cyprien Ntaryamira, was killed in a plane crash with the then Rwandan President Hapbyarimana when the plane they were traveling on was shot down by a rocket during its descent to Kigali airport. Coupled with parallel atrocities occurring in Rwanda and an increase in armed Hutu and Tutsi groups in both nations attempting to establish territorial strongholds, the violence continued to escalate in the region. With tensions high in Burundi, the nation was ripe for a coup when on July 26, 1996, the former President, Pierre Buyoya, was appointed as the interim President of a new four year transitional republic through a bloodless coup by the Burundian armed forces. During the initial three week period, political parties were banned, the National Assembly was dissolved, and the Constitution of 1992 and the 1994 Convention of Government were suspended. At the end of this temporary hiatus, both the National Assembly and political parties were reinstated with certain restrictions.

In 1998, a window for effective negotiations opened up as the Government initiated talks with the National Assembly. This set the precedent for a power sharing partnership, and on June 4, the Transitional Constitutional Act and the Transitional Political Platform was adopted. With a new set of government guidelines, realignment in political parties, and the initial good offices of Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, who was later succeeded by South African President Nelson Mandela, the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement was signed without a cease-fire on August 28, 2000. However, Hutu rebel groups, such as CNDD-FDD and FNL and three Tutsi parties did not signed the agreement, referencing their opposition for the presidential candidates, which perpetuated fighting. With further negotiations, the three remaining Tutsi parties signed the accord on September 19, 2000, beginning the process to implement peace.

In November of 2000, the Implementation Monitoring Committee (IMC) was established and would form a foundation for overseeing the implementation of the Arusha Accords. The IMC was surpassed by President Buyoya, when he announced in April of 2001 that the Arusha agreement would be implemented and a new constitution and legislation on political parties would be introduced. Following these announcements, there were two unsuccessful coup attempts, demonstrating that there were continued unresolved tensions in the nation. Despite remaining unrest in the country, which called for assistance from the South African security forces, on November 1, 2001, Burundi established a fragile Transitional Government that shared power without a cease-fire. After the onslaught of the transitional government of Burundi (TGOB), there were several cease-fire agreements which are listed below. In October of 2003 the African Union established the African Union Mission in Burundi (AMIB), which was to set up the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process. This was replaced by the UN Mission in Burundi (ONUB) in June of 2004 and preceded the October 2004 commencement of the Arusha Agreement, which ended the period of the transitional government and called for national elections.

Ceasefire/Cessation of hostilities agreements:

• December 2, 2002: Joint Ceasefire agreement
• January 27, 2003: Joint Declaration of Agreement on the final cessation of hostilities.
• November 15, 2003: Global Ceasefire Agreement in Dar es Salaam, between the Burundi government and the then main rebel movement, the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie-Force pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD-FDD.)
• September 7, 2006: comprehensive ceasefire agreement between the Government of Burundi and the Palipehutu-Forces nationales de libération (FNL)

On 3 June 2005, for the first time since the country’s independence, the people of Burundi were able to participate in elections for communal councillors. On 19 August 2005, CNDD-FDD (Nkurunziza) won 93 of the 129 communes and, Pierre Nkurunziza, leader of CNDD-FDD, was elected as President by a Joint Parliamentary Congress comprising members of the National Assembly and the Senate. On 26 August, the inauguration of Mr. Nkurunziza marked the formal conclusion of the transitional process in Burundi.

On 7 September 2005, at a summit of the Regional Peace Initiative for Burundi in Dar es Salaam, a comprehensive ceasefire agreement was endorsed by regional leaders and signed by President Pierre Nkurunziza, on behalf of the Government of Burundi, and by Agathon Rwasa, on behalf of FNL. The ceasefire, which entered into force on 10 September provides for a cessation of all hostilities, as well as the integration of FNL combatants into the national security forces or their disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.

Strategy and Approach

Security Council Resolution 1545 of May 21 2004 mandated ONUB to ’carry out the disarmament and demobilization portions of the national programme of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants’(S/RES/1545). ONUB was also requested to carry out the following mandates:

• to promote the re-establishment of confidence between the Burundian forces present, monitor and provide security at their pre-disarmament assembly sites, collect and secure weapons and military materiel to dispose of it as appropriate, and contribute to the dismantling of militias as called for in the ceasefire agreements,
• to monitor the quartering of the Armed Forces of Burundi and their heavy weapons, as well as the disarmament and demobilization of the elements that need to be disarmed and demobilized
• to assist the Government of Burundi in carrying out the national programme of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants and members of their families, including those coming from the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in liaison with the Government of this country and MONUC, and with particular attention to the specific needs of women and children.

By its resolution 1692 (2006) of 30 June 2006, the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB) until 31 December 2006. In its resolution 1719 (2006), of 25 October 2006, it authorized the Secretary-General to establish, following the conclusion of the ONUB’s mandate, the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) on 1 January 2007. DDR related mandates stipulated in the resolution are the following:

• Support for the implementation of the Dar-es-Salaam Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement of 7 September 2006;
• Support for the development of a national plan for reform of the security sector, including human rights training, and provision of technical assistance for its implementation, including training and capacity-building for the Burundi National Police, and technical assistance to enhance the professionalization of the National Defence Force of Burundi;
• Support for the completion of the national programme for the demobilization and reintegration of former combatants;
• Support for efforts to combat the proliferation of small arms and light weapons;

Aim and Objectives

The objectives of the pre-disarmament, disarmament, verification and demobilization activities are to:
• Disarm up to 6,000 combatants of Burundian Armed Political Parties and Movements (APPM) and up to 8,000 soldiers of the FAB who will not be integrated into the National Defense Force (NDF) or National Police (NP), during Stage I of program operations;
• Disable, store and ultimately destroy all weapons and munitions collected in a systematic and transparent manner;
• Verify the eligibility of APPM and FAB combatants for participation in the National Demobilization, Reinsertion and Reintegration Program;
• Demobilize all APPM combatants and FAB personnel who will not be integrated into the NDF or NP;
• Ensure the demobilization of all child soldiers;
• Ensure the disarmament of the Gardiens de la Paix and Militants Combattants.

Eligibility Criteria

The target groups for DDR in Burundi are personnel not selected for integration into the NP or NDF, originating in the APPMs, the FAB, child soldiers and the militias “Gardiens de la Paix” and “Militants Combattants”.




All combatants of Burundian APPMs not selected for integration into the NDF or NP are expected to participate in the pre-disarmament, disarmament and demobilization activities outlined in this JOP. For planning purposes, each APPM will be required to provide a comprehensive list of its combatants as well as weapons before the initiation of the disarmament process. All combatant candidates will be screened in accordance with combatant verification criteria and procedures outlined in the Operations Manual.

In compliance with the Presidential Decree 100/112 of August 19, 2004 on Combatant Status and Criteria for Demobilization, Reinsetion and Reintegration Programme (DRRP) benefits, every candidate selected for demobilization must comply with the following criteria to be eligible for demobilization and subsequent Reinsertion/Reintegration benefits:

Article 3: To be officially considered as a military member of the FAB or NDF, each candidate to be demobilized should possess an identification card attesting that he belongs to units of the FAB or NDF, being regularly registered at the fighting order of the ongoing month and having been recruited before the date of the signature of the Ceasefire Agreement as far as each movement is concerned.

Article 4: Criteria to determine the combatant status for members of APPMs is set out as follows:

• Testify his belonging to an APPM, being physically identified, registered on the legitimate authentic certified list submitted to the Joint Ceasefire Commission (JCC) and possess an individual weapon with munitions in a functional estate, or have access to a group weapon in accordance with the ratios specified in the annex to the present decree.
• Being recognized as combatant by the verification team in a Demobilization Center after having shown his military skills and having participated in military operations in Burundi or Democratic Republic of Congo with his APPM before the signature of the Ceasefire.

Article 5: To be considered as an APPM Combatant, each candidate for verification should fulfill the following criteria:

• Be a Burundian National
• 18 years old and over
• Present copy of his disarmament form
• Having been recruited before the date of the signature of the Arusha or Ceasefire Agreement.

Article 6: All combatant candidates are verified.

Article 9: In accordance with the Cape Town Principles on Child Soldiers, any person under 18 years old is recognized as a child soldier if he/she belong to any of the following categories:

• Recruited by FAB or APPM, either voluntarily or by force;
• Member of the militias “Gardiens de la Paix” or “Militants Combattants;”
• Associated to military personnel in the FAB or an APPM in their displacements.

Foreign Combatants:

Burundi is currently targeting ex-combatants who had been fighting in the DRC and are currently in Zambian UNHCR refugee camps, and with ex-combatants returning from Tanzania so that they may be involved in the DDR process. In order to prevent prolonged demobilization operations, the main objective remains to arrange an inter-government transfer of such members through a joint operation rather than on an individual basis.

Operational Struct. & Framework

Government formally established the National Commission for Demobilization, Reinsertion and Reintegration (NCDRR) on August 28, 2003. The NCDRR has been mandated to provide policy guidance and to oversee the design and implementation of the DRRP. The NCDRR is supported by an Executive Secretariat (ES/NCDRR), which is tasked with the technical planning and implementation of the DRRP, as well as coordination with external program partners. Government nominated key personnel of the ES/NCDRR in November 2003. The ES/NCDRR would be supported by Provincial Program Offices (PPOs).

National Commission for Demobilization, Reinsertion and Reintegration:The NCDRR is chaired by the President of the Republic. Its main responsibilities would include:

(i) determining Government policy for the demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants;
(ii) guiding the activities undertaken to ensure ex-combatants’ successful transition to civilian life;
(iii) monitoring and guiding the implementation of the Program by the Executive Secretariat; and
(iv) providing strategic and policy-level Program coordination.

Executive Secretariat: The Executive Secretariat would serve as the Program’s implementation unit. The ES/NCDRR would report to the office of the President. In particular, the ES/NCDRR would be charged with:

(i) the preparation and costing of detailed annual implementation plans;
(ii) the implementation and coordination of the individual DRRP components (demobilization, reinsertion, reintegration, special target groups, HIV/AIDS measures). To this end, the ES/NCDRR would establish close links with relevant Government departments, local organizations and associations, and the private sector;
(iii) the transparent and accountable administration of Program resources (including procurement and financial management);
(iv) monitoring and evaluation of program implementation progress and impacts; and
(v) ensuring the coordination of international partners in accordance with the provisions of the Grant Agreements and the principles of of the Multi-Country Demobilization and Reintegration Program MDRP.

Area of Activity

The following diagram depicts the functional blocks for the location and relationship among the different activities.

The majority of the weapons that were in the hands of Armed Political Parties and Movements (APPM’s) were absorbed into the direct integration process which led to the establishment of the new security forces, with approximately 4,000 weapons entering the stocks of the Force de Défense Nationale (FDN). Very few of the APPM combatants who presented themselves for demobilization had weapons. Approximately 300 weapons were collected by the UN during the DDR process. Inoperable weapons collected by the UN during DDR operations have been destroyed. The prevalence of weapons at the hands of the civilian population led the Government to develop a strategy for their disarmament with support principally from UNDP and ONUB DDR-SSR.

As of November 2006 28,328 ex-combatants had been demobilized (including 3,015 child soldiers and 494 female ex-combatants). A further 18,459 Gardiens de la paix and 9,509 ‘militants combatants’ had also taken part in the programme to disarm and dismantle militias.


Demobilization sites (transit centers) were set up to receive and process the targeted groups and those participating in DDR over a 10 day period. The activities at these sites took place over the course of the programme, once one group went through the process a new phase would begin with a new group. The demobilization process includes members of the Burundian armed forces (soldiers and militia) and armed opposition or combatants which included children and women. Following demobilization, the participants were then cleared to enter into the reinsertion stage of DDR.

Key Demobilization activities are:

* Briefing on demobilization process
* Registration / issuance of ID card
* Basic primary health screening and service
* Pre discharge orientation
* Reintegration expectations interview
* Discharge /Issuance of transport allowance
* Evaluation of activities

Reintegration activities

The PNDRR has adopted a two steps approach for its post-disarmament/emobilization support:

    i. Reinsertion package: This support is intended to provide beneficiaries see to their own and their families’ with immediate support as they resume civilian life. The total reinsertion benefit (Indemnité Transitoire de Subsistance, ITS) for ex-combatants is differentiated by rank and amounts to a minimum of FBU 566,000 per ex-combatant (indexed on the ex-FAB salary scale), which is paid in cash. Upon discharge from the demobilization centers, each demobilized ex-combatant receives the first of four installments (FBU 300,000 for privates). Subsequent payments are made through the banking system in the location where they resettle. This approach also enables ex-combatants to familiarize themselves with the banking system, and indirectly facilitates access to credit.

The remaining three installments are paid to ex-combatants over a 10 month period once they have resettled in their community of choice as follows according to the schedule outlined in table 5 below.

The money allows the ex-combatants to make the expenses that come with her/his social re-entry into the community and financing a basic livelihood. It is meant to be sufficient to bridge a period of about 18 months. Initial findings are that ex-combatants are not having difficulty accessing these resources, and that they are generally well utilized.
The “tranching” of this package allows the ES/NCDRR to accompany the demobilized ex-combatants as they return to civilian life and to help them prepare their medium-long term reintegration. It ensures that ex-combatants receive assistance for the first 10 months after their return to civilian life. It also “buys” time for the ES/NCDRR to prepare reintegration assistance activities in communities where ex-combatants have settled.

Reintegration support: once they have resettled in their community of choice, demobilized ex-combatants may seek in kind support from the PNDRR to further assist their reintegration.

Social reintegration will be supported through direct engagement of the staff of the BPs with the ex-combatants and their communities and through special activities in the communities. These will be conducted by NGOs and community organizations, contracted by the ES. Discussions with partners are ongoing.

Economic support will assist each ex-combatant in starting or developing her/his livelihood. The ex-combatants can select their (targeted) economic support from five ‘tracks’:

1) Targeted community-based assistance – a comprehensive scheme responding to ex-combatants’ preferences for economic activities;
2) Training and self-employment – through institutional agreements with service providers;
3) Continued education – providing access to school by September 2005 for all those who wish for;
4) Entrepreneurship support – training and possibly funds for those that have already established a credible business;
5) Promotion of employment – referrals and special arrangement with employers that provide employment that would include a training element.

Reintegration works in conjunction with reinsertion of demobilized combatants. These activities were scaled up in February of 2006 in order to meet the needs of the community and reach target goals so that the mission may move onto the next phase of reintegration.

As of end October 2006, 5,412 adult ex-combatants were receiving reintegration support.

Support to Child Combatants and Disabled Combatants
The demobilization and support to the reintegration of underage combatants is implemented by the National Structure for Child Soldiers (SNES) with assistance from UNICEF and funding from UNICEF and from the MDRP trust fund. About 3000 children have been demobilized. Almost all have been returned to their families. The reintegration of these child soldiers is proceeding, though there have been some difficulties with the delivery of reintegration services in some parts of the country. A recent UNICEF evaluation pointed to the need for additional support for vocational training (especially for those in the age group 15-18), as well as intensified psycho-social support.

Disabled and handicapped combatants are also given special attention in order to meet their specific needs and ensure that they are reintegrated into society through an active support system.


The national DDR programme in Burundi has benefited from the following sources of funding:

Voluntary Contributions:

Germany and the World Food Programme: $6 million
World Bank. $33 million
Multi-country Demobilisation and Reintegration Programme: $41.8 million

Assessed Peacekeeping Contribution:

    • ONUB 1.542 million USD (2005/06)

With regard to SSR, this has been supported by a number of bi-lateral partners, including Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Current Challenges and Updates

In August the Executive Secretariat of the National Commission for Demobilization, Reinsertion and Reintegration demobilized 337 FDN personnel, on the basis of their age, in the first non-voluntary demobilization process. As at 5 October, a total of 21,379 former combatants and soldiers had been demobilized, including 3,015 children and 494 women.

Since the launch of the reintegration programme in 2005, the Executive Secretariat of the National Commission for Demobilization, Reinsertion and Reintegration has successfully placed 543 demobilized ex-combatants with employers and continues to identify other potential employers. A further 5,412 ex- combatants have benefited from targeted economic support, 3,300 of whom are now engaged in income-generating activities. It is expected that over 8,000 will receive similar support in the coming months. At the same time, the 3,015 demobilized former child soldiers have received reintegration support, of whom 599 have returned to school and 896 are participating in vocational training.

The dismantling of the civilian militias has now been completed with 28,379 militias demobilized, including 18,709 gardiens de la paix and 9,670 militants combatants.

At the same time, limited progress was achieved in security sector reform, with the completion by the Ministry of National Defence and Veterans Affairs and the Ministry of Interior and Public Security of plans for the professionalization of FDN and the Burundian National Police (PNB) respectively.

Steps have been taken to curb the proliferation of small arms and, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), ONUB trained 41 FDN members in weapons control and management issues in July 2006. Furthermore, on 17 August President Nkurunziza announced the appointment of 17 members of the National Commission for Civilian Disarmament and on Small Arms Proliferation. The Commission is expected to build on the technical work undertaken in support of the President’s efforts to launch the civilian disarmament process.

The next steps in the programme remain to complete the reintegration of the remaining combatants disarmed and demobilized under the national DDR programme and to respond to the new opportunities created by the signing of the comprehensive ceasefire agreement between the Government of Burundi and the PALIPEHUTU Forces national de liberation in September 2006, which will hopefully result in the demobilization of a further caseload of PALIPEHUTU-FNL forces.

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