The UN Security Council (UNSC) has voted to deploy a UN police force to restive Burundi, in its toughest measure aimed at helping end over a year of violence in the West African country.
The council adopted a France-drafted resolution Friday authorizing the dispatch of up to 228 officers to the capital, Bujumbura, and throughout Burundi for a preliminary period of one year.
“This is a strong act of preventative diplomacy,” said French Ambassador Francois Delattre, adding that the UN force gives the council “eyes and ears” on the ground to provide early warning of possible mass atrocities.
This is while Burundi has said it would not accept more than 50 UN police forces.
The UNSC resolution also called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to ensure a “progressive deployment” of the new force to monitor human rights violations and abuses in Burundi.
The violence has triggered fears of mass atrocities similar to those that shook neighboring Rwanda in 1994.
Four countries on the 15-member council abstained from the council vote, which passed with 11 votes in favor. The abstentions came from China, Egypt, Angola and Venezuela, which cited the need to secure Bujumbura’s consent for the police force.
Burundi has been gripped in chaos since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans in April last year to run for a third term, which he went on to win.
More than 500 people have been killed, many of them in extrajudicial executions blamed on Burundian police, security forces and militias linked to the ruling party, according to a UN report. At least 270,000 others have also fled the country.