A confidential report to the United Nations Security Council accuses Rwanda of providing training, financing and logistical support through early 2016 for Burundian rebels seeking to oust Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza.
A panel of six independent experts, appointed by the United Nations to monitor Security Council sanctions on Democratic Republic of Congo, had confidentially reported in February that 18 Burundian combatants in eastern Congo said they had been recruited in a refugee camp in Rwanda in mid-2015 and trained by instructors, who included Rwandan military personnel. Rwanda has repeatedly denied the claims.
In the expert’s latest report, seen by Reuters on Thursday and due to be discussed by the Security Council sanctions committee on Friday, they said “similar outside support continued through early 2016.”
The findings contradict suggestions from Western officials in recent months who said any Rwandan support for Burundian rebels appeared to have ceased last year. The United States said it had raised concerns with Rwanda over reports it was meddling in Burundi.
Political violence has simmered in Burundi for a year after Nkurunziza pursued and won a third term. The crisis has sparked concerns it could spiral into an ethnic conflict in a region where memories of neighboring Rwanda’s 1994 genocide are fresh.
Burundi has an ethnic Hutu majority and Tutsi minority, the same split as in neighboring Rwanda.
The U.N. experts said they had presented their findings to the Rwandan government “which denied any involvement, noting it was ‘unaware of recruitment of Burundian refugees in Mahama (refugee) camp.'” Rwanda’s U.N. mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some Security Council members want to deploy U.N. police to Burundi to help quell the violence and monitor the border between Burundi and Rwanda.