Three-day Commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance in Bujumbura

27 January 2016

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Bujumbura attracted about 500 secondary school students to its three-day educational outreach programme “The Holocaust and Human Dignity” from 27 to 29 January 2016 in memory of the Holocaust victims.

The commemoration included briefing sessions, photo exhibits and film screening, as well as debate, discussions, question-and-answer sessions for students, about the Holocaust. UNIC gained good supports from the participating schools. History teachers told students about the history of the First and the Second World War and their relation with the Holocausts. Students not only learned about the Holocaust, but also shared the lessons that they learned from this historic tragedy. They showed a real interest on the subject, and this is normal for young people who were born and are growing in a conflict and genocide cycles environment, in the African Great Lakes Region, including Rwanda and Burundi.

In Burundi, this year’s commemoration coincided with a political crisis with escalating violence and ethnic conflicts which led to genocide crimes in the past years, in Rwanda and Burundi. The students were advised to be vigilant about political ideologies that may turn people against people. UNIC seized this opportunity to teach the students on the reason behind and the relevance of the creation of the UN communication programme on the Holocaust. UNIC also briefed the students on the link between the Holocaust and the founding of the UN.

The activity aimed to educate the students about the Holocaust and the dangers of hatred and prejudice. The discussions focused on the role of the youth in prevention of conflicts, and on how the new generation should be vigilant and never support extreme ideologies which can lead to genocide.

UNIC printed and exhibited 12 posters on the Holocaust in French and translated the Secretary-General’s video messages to French to show students. The team also played the film “The Path to Nazi Genocide.”

All the participating schools appreciated the programme intended to providing leadership and human rights education to their students. They also appreciated the constant partnership with the UNIC.

Security Council members visit Burundi

21 January 2016

On 21 January, Security Council members started a two-day visiting mission to Burundi. 

The Council members met the President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, the Foreign Minister, National Assembly President and Vice-President, representatives of political parties, civil society organizations and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

A press conference was held at Bujumbura airport on 22 January before members left for Ethiopia.

UNIC Bujumbura coordinated the media coverage of the mission, preparing the press conference and producing photos, video and audio materials.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Visit to Burundi

15 April 2015

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein paid a three-day visit to Burundi – his first official country visit as the UN’s top human rights official, from 12 to 15 April 2015. 

UNIC Bujumbura prepared well in advance and organized media coverage and provided accreditation to the journalists who covered the visit. UNIC organized the press conference by Mr. Zeid and arranged exclusive interviews with key local and international journalists. UNIC also covered the visit for the UNCG quarterly bulletin, “Echo des Nations Unies au Burundi”. UNIC also supported the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’s Spokesperson to disseminate to the press release announcing the visit and the HCHR final press statement at the end of the Mission.

During his visit, High Commissioner Zeid met the President as well as a number of top officials, including the Minister for External Relations and International Cooperation and the Minister in Charge of Human Rights. He also met the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the Bureau of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the President of the National Assembly, the President of the National Independent Electoral Commission, the President of the National Independent Human Rights Commission, members of civil society, political parties and the diplomatic corps. 

On 15 April, High Commissioner Zeid participated in a roundtable discussion on human rights and elections in Burundi. At the end of his visit, the High Commissioner held a press conference organized by the UNIC and the later mobilized the local and international journalists for participation. Around 25 selected journalists attended the Press conference.

Remembering Victims of the Rwanda Genocide

09 April 2015

The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Bujumbura involved the Office of High Commission for Human Rights and the Rwanda Embassy in Burundi in an educational outreach activity to commemorate the 21st Anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide, on 9 April 2015, in the UNIC compound. 

Around 200 students between 19 and 21 years of age from two secondary schools in Bujumbura participated in a briefing which took place in the UNIC Library. Patrice Vahard, Country Representative of the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights took the floor the first and talked about the UN Convention against genocide and the international law regarding Genocide. The Minister Councilor of the Rwanda Embassy in Burundi, Desire Nyaruhirira, explained to the students on the history of the Genocide in Rwanda, starting with the colonial policy which used ethnic division teachings to strengthen their power in Rwanda. 

UNIC has also invited a survivor of the Genocide, a young university student, to come and talk about his testimony as a Genocide survivor. The students were touched by the story as Burundi shares a similar history with the same ethnic problems as Rwanda.

The discussions, questions and answers moment was very intense. The students learned about the signs of an emerging ideology of Genocide with the Rwanda experience, and how to avoid bad groups of people, even friends who talk about divisions and discrimination.  They also expressed the lessons learned from the Rwanda genocide regarding – among others – the danger of ethnic divisions, racial discrimination and political teachings of ethnic divisions. 

UNIC Bujumbura displayed a photo exhibition entitled, “The Lessons Learned from the Rwanda Genocide” and banderoles with the logo of the UN Communication Programme on the Rwanda Genocide as well as the UN70. 

UNIC also screened the film “Duhozanye: A community of Resilience, Hope and Dignity", with the same group, to strengthen learning and knowledge of what happened in Rwanda and how the country is making efforts to recover from the trauma and rebuild a peaceful and developed country.

Further, on 7 April 2015, UNIC supported the organization of the official ceremony to commemorate the Genocide. 

Categories: Bujumbura
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