Mr President, Hutus of
Bantu origin form the majority tribe in Burundi with a population of 6
million. The Tutsis of Nilotic origin are the minority tribe, but they
dominate the government and the army. Such tribal polarisation as we often
see in Africa has been a major factor in the internal conflict, not only
in Burundi but in neighbouring states.
In 1993 Burundi's Hutu
President was assassinated and within a month over 100,000 civilians were
killed. A further 150,000 have been killed since then. More than half a
million are refugees in Tanzania's refugee camps to this day. The
Democratic Republic of Congo has experienced similar conflict and almost 2
million civilians have been killed there or are missing over the last two
to three years. In the Horn, East and Central Africa covering 12
countries, there are 20 million displaced persons, displaced from their
homes and their villages.
These people were poor
before. They are even poorer today. They have no education, no access to
health care, no employment and no shelter. They depend totally on the
World Food Programme for their food and they fear those who run the
refugee camps where they live. It is not surprising, therefore, that these
refugee camps are breeding grounds for disease, discontent and disorder.
Young men and women are lured by the warlords to join their unruly gangs.
These innocent and desperate people, who were ordinary civilians before,
probably farmers, are easily persuaded to train and be armed to support
the greed and power struggle of the warlords. The Lusaka and Arusha peace
accords have failed to end the violence and internal conflict.
Repatriation of refugees is not satisfactory as the people are simply
afraid to return to villages devastated, overrun and terrorised by the
terrorists or the warlords.
How can we allow these
displaced millions, these desperate refugees, to live in camps as beggars
for life? How can we extinguish the fires of conflict and civil war in
these developing countries? Containers full of medicines, tents, food,
blankets and other such things bring temporary relief, but this is not
We must be more active and
rethink our strategy. We must first of all give the poor a stake in their
rural economies so that they may own their land and have an opportunity to
build their lives. Secondly, we must give them the appropriate technology
- third world technology - which they can then use to start local
enterprises to break this cycle of dependency on us. We must rethink our
strategy and reassess the quality of people that we have in place as our
ambassadors and representatives, their experience, and see how we can
perhaps use local experts with international reputation and competence to
advise us, to act on our behalf, to use the limited resources that we have
to its best effectiveness.
We must embark on this with
great urgency. I have great confidence in Commissioner Pattern to lead
this, and Commissioner Nielson, and I hope that they will get together and
make sure that the EU's next decade is much better than the last 40 years,
a period in which, I consider, much time and resources were wasted.