Govt to vaccinate Burundian asylum seekers

Government officials and partners have decided to issue vaccination and medical treatment to over 2,500 Burundian asylum seekers currently hosted in three camps in various parts of the country.

The decision comes after refugees refused to abide by laws and obligations regulating refugees in Rwanda, citing religious beliefs.

According to the officials, a joint team from the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR), Ministry of Health, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other stakeholders on Wednesday carried out a physical verification visit to refugee camps housing Burundian refugees in Bugesera, Nyanza and Rusizi districts.

However, the asylum seekers denied all medical services as when they gathered for the exercise, their leaders started to incite them to reject any assistance from these institutions, according to the officials.

As a result, 33 asylum seekers who were considered ringleaders were identified and arrested by police over incitement.

They include 31 at Gashora Transit Centre-Bugesera; one at Nyarushishi Transit Centre-Rusizi; and one at Muyira Transit Centre-Nyanza, according to police.

However, according to a statement from the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees Affairs (MIDIMAR) concerned government officials and partners on Friday briefed the asylum seekers in all three transit centres and ordered them to be vaccinated.

Asylum seekers were also sensitised on the importance of vaccinating children less than five years.

“In view of preventing and protecting against public health threats,vaccinations against Measles Rubella and Polio need to be conducted immediately and all  people who fall sick must seek and receive health services as per the national standards,” reads part of the communiqué released  on Friday

Officials include those from The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees (MIDIMAR), the United Nations refugee Agency (UNCHR) and the Ministry of Health

Others include, the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Food Program (WFP) .
In total a total of 2,523 Burundian asylum seekers are currently hosted in Bugesera, Nyanza and Rusizi District’s Nyarushishi Transit Centres.  

They left Kamanyola refugee camp (DRC) early March seeking refuge after they feared deportation in their country.

The asylum seekers have also been informed on basic conditions they have to fulfill if they want to be granted refugee status in Rwanda including individual registration and complying with the laws of the host country.


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