The number of Burundian refugees in Rwanda rose to 6,571 as of Wednesday evening, up from roughly 4,000 last week-end, with the majority of them being children.
The exodus is stemming from insecurity allegedly caused by the election fever as the country prepares for parliamentary elections set for May 26, and most importantly, presidential elections a month later.
Frederic Ntawukuriryayo, the Public Relations and Communication Officer at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (Midmar), yesterday, told The New Times that on Wednesday evening, 617 refugees were received in both transit centres of Bugesera and Nyanza.
“Bugesera so far has 4,714 refugees and Nyanza 1857,” Ntawukuriryayo said. “They include 1,036 men, 1,629 women and 3,906 children.”
Jean Claude Rwahama, the Director of the Refugee Unit at Midmar, said, “We are still in the emergency phase of receiving many refugees but we are also mindful of the (vulnerabilty of) children. We are collaborating with partners such as Unicef and Plan International Rwanda on this”.
“Programmes for child immunisation are being considered as well as providing them toys to play with,” he added.
Last week, Antoine Ruvebana, the Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, indicated that plans were underway to fast track the process of finding more space to accommodate the Burundian refugees, far away from the border area.
The first Burundi refugees entered Rwanda around mid last month, they were received and hosted by friendly Rwandan families near the border. They alleged that they were fleeing from Imbonerakure militia.
Imbonerakure (Kirundi word literally meaning “those that see far”) is the youth wing of Burundi’s ruling party, the National Council for the Defence of Democracy Forces for Defence and Democracy (CNDD-FDD) - Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces de défense et de la démocratie.
The group’s members have been accused of allegedly harassing and attacking members of opposition political parties.