BUGESERA—Burundian Governor of Kirundu province Oscar Ruvuna has convinced a group of refugees to return to their home countries after a week in Rwanda. The group of 58, mostly women and children, began returning yesterday, Friday November 9.
Ruvuna had on Thursday this week led a delegation of leaders from the southern country and reporters to meet 58 nationals, mostly women and children from Gatete of Kirundu province, who arrived in Rwanda on November 2 allegedly fleeing insecurity at home.
The group, composed of 31 women, 13 children and three men living in 17 families, were given temporary accommodation at Nyirigisekye primary school. The last batch of 11 people arrived at the school on Wednesday.
One elderly woman failed to make it to the school and was accommodated at a home near the boarder. Beddings were their big challenge at the school but local residents provided the meals.
“Let me first commend our Rwandese brothers for the reception accorded to you. We learnt of your fleeing and arrival in Rwanda and in the discussions that followed, our counterparts assured us that they shared our problems,” he said.
“We have come to ascertain the reason you abandoned your homes and work and livelihoods and fled the country, so that we can find a lasting solution and bring our people home.”
Speaking with authority amidst cheers from others, Fidel Nturazose, 93, one of the group members, said they fled the country fearing for their security following the killing of one of their ‘own’ Nkurunziza on ethnic grounds. He accused the Burundian army and local authorities for allegedly doing nothing to help.
“It was so scary for us to kill a prominent person among us and no intervention from the army and local authorities” said the old man who had sought refuge in Rwanda for the second time since 1993.
Responding to the allegations, Ruvuna who appeared disturbed by the heated debate of accusations, explained that their government’s policy was to maintain peace in the country and ensure that no Burundian is mistreated on the basis of religion, ethnicity or province of origin.
He noted that ethnic ideology was not his government’s policy but the work of “a few extremist elements” who wanted to intimidate others into exile for selfish reasons.
The group accused the governor of appearing on the radio waves and denying the death of Nkurunziza, an act they described as saddening.
In what observers said was reminiscent of the days before the Rwandan Genocide, the group said the use of the words ‘Hutu’ and ‘Tutsi’ in apparent reference to the ethnic divisions was common among the residents and grassroots leaders.
Rwanda has abolished discrimination based on these and many other grounds. It considers all people to be Rwanda, nothing more and nothing less.
Bugesera district mayor Gaspard Musonera urged Burundians to “pick a leaf” from Rwanda and avoid ethnic ideologies, saying it only served to retard their country’s development.
The mayor who together with security officials from the district received their counterparts at the Burundian broader of Gasenyi, noted that Rwanda was hospitable, but it did not encourage human flight from countries where there is apparent security because he said: “even our policy is to encourage all our nationals still living in exile to return home.”