UNHCR official due in Rwanda to assess Burundi refugee crisis

Majority of the refugees are women and children

Majority of the refugees are women and children

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Deputy High Commissioner, Kelly Clements will be in Rwanda on an 2-day official visit to assess the refugee situation in the country.

“During her mission she will visit refugee camps, Gisozi memorial site and meet partners intervening in refugee’s protection,” said Frederic Ntawukuriryayo, the Communication Specialist with Rwanda’s Ministry of Disaster management and refugee affairs.

Her visit comes at a time when violence in Burundi continues to escalate and experts believe the country is tilting into an all-out civil war or genocide, the worst case scenarios that would push more citizens into seeking refuge in neighbouring countries including Rwanda.

The influx of nearly 200, 000 Burundian refugees has exacerbated the refugee problem in Burundi’s neighbours; Rwanda, DRC, Uganda and Tanzania.

In Rwanda the majority of the refugees are in five camps – Gihembe, Kigeme, Kiziba, Mugombwa and Nyabiheke. The country also is home to refugees from other African countries.

The Burundi crisis which started in April has lately escalated as the death toll inches closer to 400 and dead bodies have been reported to be scattered on the streets and in water bodies.

UN, the African Union and countries in the region are believed to be on the verge of sending in a peacekeeping force to help halt the daily deadly violence.

Kelly T. Clements, previously Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the United States, assumed the duties of Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees at UNHCR this July.