More high profile Burundians fleeing to Rwanda and as refugee number hits 24,000


Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza (R)meeting EAC foreign ministers in Bujumbura

In the wake of the political conflict throughout Burundi, a new wave of fear for safety has not only hit the common citizens but also government officials including judges and local government officials.

The latest top official to flee to Rwanda Sylvère Nimpagaritse, the vice-president of Burundian Constitutional Court, who arrived in Rwanda on May 4, 2015 through the Rusizi District border, western Rwanda.

On May 1, 2015 two Burundian local government officials, Niyonsaba Gaudose of Gisagara commune and his counterpart Basile Ndereyimana of Cankuzo prefecture, abandoned their posts and sought refuge in Rwanda through Bugesera border crossing, Eastern Rwanda claiming their lives were in imminent danger

Most of the refugees that Rwanda has been receiving have been low class citizens and farmers, but of recent, the refugee camps have been also receiving decent looking middle class citizens and influential personalities including musicians and members of the academia.

The East African Community member states have been accused of dragging their feet in response to the crisis next door, which is expected to further worsen now that President Pierre Nkurunziza has made it official he is running for the 3rd unconstitutional term.

Raila Odinga, the Kenyan opposition leader has also condemned East African leaders for their silence over the Burundi conflict saying that this is a bad example that will affect the region in the forthcoming elections in each of the member states.

The current conflict in Burundi has raised concerns over the number of refugees, especially the ordinary Burundians entering Rwanda.

Experts believe that Rwanda was not logistically prepared for the influx thousands of women, men and children.
Rwanda’s minister of Foreign affairs, Loiuse Mushikiwabo on Monday said that the situation in Burundi is appalling.

“We appeal to leaders of Burundi to do everything in their power to bring the country back to a peaceful situation. We will continue to work with the region and the international community to support peace.” Mushikiwabo stated
She also said in a statement that Rwanda considers the safety of innocent population as a regional and international responsibility.

Numbers of Burundians continuously fleeing to Rwanda is increasing day by day and as of May 6, the number had reached 24,967.

Overall the number of Burundian refugees so far in the East African Community (EAC) member states is estimated to be 40,000.

Early this month, the government of Rwanda granted a ‘Prima Facie’ refugee status to all Burundians fleeing to Rwanda, a move that has also seen a large wave of at least 2000 refugees from all walks of life enter Rwanda daily.

The refugees are being hosted in reception centres and camps at Gashora, in Bugesera district and Mahama, Kirehe district in Eastern Province, while others are in Nyamiyaga, Nyagatare and Rusizi.

Rwanda’s Disaster Management and Refugee affairs ministry in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and other humanitarian agencies are providing basic assistance such as shelter, food, Non-Food items (NFIs), water and sanitation facilities, health services among others.