Rwandan Officials discuss Burundian refugees relocation issue

Rwandan officials on Monday visited Mahama refugee camp in eastern Rwanda to brief refugees on the impending plan to relocate them to a third country.


Seraphine Mukantabana, Rwanda’s minister of disaster management and refugee affairs, explained that the government’s recent decision to relocate the refugees is in the interest of their own safety.

Burundian refugees
Burundian refugees
“The decision being that some people have politicized the fact that we received you, and started allegations that undermine your security and our country,” she told the refugees, saying that the announcement of relocation was deliberately taken.

On Feb. 12, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo announced the plan to relocate the Burundian refugees, which came on the heels of concerns raised by the U.S. allegation of Rwanda’s involvement in “destabilizing activities” in Burundi.

Kigali denied the allegations, saying that relocating refugees is provided within the refugee treaty ratified by Rwanda.

Rwanda has accepted about 75,000 refugees from Burundi, while Mukantabana insisted that protecting refugees is the international community’s responsibility which cannot be left to a single country.

Saber Azam, regional representative of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees, told the refugees that the relocation is a lengthy process which should not stop them from carrying out welfare activities.

The refugees’ representative at the camp, Bosco Ukwibishaka, said they would be ready to relocate for their own security.

Source: Xinhua, February 23, 2016

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