The Rwandan government was this week compelled to come out and make public its position in relation to the political strife in neighbouring Burundi. Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo told the media in Kigali that Rwanda will not get involved in a blame game over the crisis in Bujumbura, but will instead continue its calm and proactive approach.
Tensions in Burundi started simmering in late March, worsening in April when Burundians started crossing borders in their hundreds, fleeing what they said was persecution by a pro-government youth wing. A crisis followed as President Pierre Nkurunziza insisted on seeking another term in office despite protests, a failed coup and international pressure.
As all this happened, Rwanda continued receiving Burundian refugees, registering more than 70,000 as at present, with many more opting to live in cities on their own accounts or with friends and relatives.
But as Rwandans welcome Burundians with open arms, they themselves are not allowed to cross into Burundi, lest they are arrested and tortured as spies. Many who had economic engagements in Burundi have seen their businesses suffer.
When there is a crisis, people seek excuses. They want a fall guy to take the blame. But with Burundian officials trading blames rather than bringing its house to order, it is being inconsiderate to the plight of the more than 70,000 of their people in refugee camps in Rwanda and another 100,000-plus in DR Congo, Tanzania and Uganda.
The refugees, and even those in Burundi living in uncertainty, pray for nothing but restoring stability in their country. You can’t launch an inquest into an inferno before putting out the fire and this is what Rwanda and the rest of the regional countries wish for Burundi.