Government has promised support to Burundians who have recently fled to Rwanda, citing insecurity in their country.
Over 500 Burundians have so far fled to the country since last month through various border points.
The latest group of over 70 families arrived in Bugesera District on Wednesday. Most of them have been settled in a refugee transit centre in Biryo Cell, Gashora Sector.
VIDEO: Burundian refugees keep fleeing to Rwanda. Many of them are children and women. Source: The New Times/YouTube
Government officials, representatives of humanitarian agencies, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), World Food Programme(WFP), the Burundian ambassador to Rwanda, Alexis Ntukamazina, and the head of the European Union Delegation to Rwanda, Micheal Ryan, visited the transit centre, yesterday, to assess the situation.
Antoine Ruvebana, the Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, pledged government’s support to the Burundians.
“The first necessity you need is security and the Government of Rwanda is committed to providing that. We all know that home is best and we are going to work closely with your home country to ensure peace and stability,” Ruvebana said.
He further said the refugees would be provided with shelter and foodstuff with the assistance of humanitarian agencies.
Dr Azam Saber, the UNHCR representative in Rwanda, said the number is still manageable but added that it might increase with time.
“The refugees’ major concern is security in their country, Burundi, so we have to really look into the matter. The political situation in Burundi needs to improve so that these people can go back and settle,” Dr Saber said.
Joselyne Mukamutara, from Kirondo Province, said she fled with her family following threats on her life.
She claimed they feared the ‘Imbonerakure’, an alleged youth wing of the ruling National Council for the Defence of Democracy–Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD–FDD) party which she claimed was secretly armed and trained.
“For several weeks we had been sleeping in bushes fearing for our lives. We hadwritten death threats dropped on our door steps stating the date and time when we would be killed. So there was no reason to stay in Burundi. If the Imbonerakure can kill a policeman in my village Bugabiro, what guarantee do I have that they will not kill me?” Mukamutara wondered.
She said she carried nothing along, fearing to be noticed that they were fleeing the country.
Alexis Ntukamazina, Burundian ambassador to Rwanda, who heard the various testimonies from the refugees, pledged to report to his government the situation of his compatriots based on the information they had provided.
“No one deserves to live as a refugee. I have seen the conditions they are in and heard the requests they have made to the Burundian government, I will pass on the information. I don’t think the Imbonerakure group is above the law,” Ntukamazina said.
“There is need for district officials in Burundi to protect and give hope to their residents through comforting and providing assurance that their lives are not threatened.”
Louis Rwagaju, Bugesera District mayor, said residents had provided quick assistance to the refugees to help them settle in the transit centre.
“We are doing everything possible to provide them with all the necessities required. We are also glad that the government and humanitarian agencies are supportive,” Rwagaju said.