Rwanda: 1,600 Burundian refugees returned to their country

Some 1,600 Burundian refugees who have been in Rwanda for more than three weeks have been sent back to their country.

The cause: these refugees refused for religious reasons biometric recordings and vaccinations.

The Rwandan authorities had hardened their tone in recent days after trying to negotiate.

Fearing being sent back to their country, some 2,500 Burundian refugees fled in early March to Kamanyola, in eastern DRC, where they lived since 2015.

Head to Rwanda, where they seek asylum in Kigali, then places them in three transit sites.

Problem arise when these refugees who for the majority claim that the prophetess Zébiya urged to refuse any biometric registration or vaccination, which is mandatory in Rwanda.

After trying to negotiate, the Rwandan authorities harden their tone. Last Monday, the police asked their representatives to tell them to talk with the minister in charge of refugees, Joan of Arc De Bonheur. The meeting does not take place. On the other hand, two of their representatives remain in the hands of the police.

Two days later, the situation becomes even more acute when, at the site of Gashora, home to 1,600 of these refugees, the Rwandan authorities accompanied by the UNHCR try again to register them and vaccinate their children and scuffles erupt.

Rwandan police arrest 33 of their representatives and the refugees from Gashora then ask to return to Burundi.

Saturday night, dozens of buses pick them up. But these refugees refuse to leave at night and without their representatives who have been arrested.

The situation is finally resolved on Sunday morning. According to a Rwandan official, the arrested refugees were released.

According to the same source, a total of 1,604 refugees are being transferred from Kigali in northeastern Burundi to the Gasenyi-Nemba border crossing.

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