Editorial: New Burundian refugees come with new challenges

Soon after the closure of over 700 worship centres in Kigali that had failed to meet the minimum standards, there were mixed reactions; some in support and others against.

Soon after the closure of over 700 worship centres in Kigali that had failed to meet the minimum standards, there were mixed reactions; some in support and others against.

It was soon followed by the shutting down of 75 churches in Rwamagana District and a similar number in Gatsibo. Statistics showed that there were over 700 people for every church, but if non-Christians and atheists were excluded, the figure could even be lower.

When one puts into account that there is only one doctor for nearly 10,000 people, then something is askew. It is no secret that many organizations have found a lucrative niche and manipulation is the main weapon, especially when dealing with naïve people.

That is the case of the 3000 Burundian refugees who relocated from their camps in Eastern DRC to Rwanda. They claimed that they feared being extradited to Burundi because they had refused to have their biometric data taken.

According to one of their representatives, they are members of an obscure Catholic fundamentalist sect that bans them from modern ways of leaving. They see having their fingerprints taken as going against their beliefs.

It is a tricky situation that might not be found in any refugee agency’s textbooks but a solution has to be found.

This is clearly a case of ignorance caused by manipulation which refugee authorities will have to treat with kid gloves. Indoctrination of that level will need some special approach as they have to be convinced to abide by the registration requirements.

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