Burundi Claims on Rwanda are Baseless – UNHCR

UNHCR’s Volker Türk and Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan play Basketball during a visit to Mahama refugee camp yesterday

The recent allegations by International organisations that Rwanda recruited young Burundian men in Mahama camp into “non-state armed groups” are baseless, UNHCR assistant commissioner for Protection says.

In December last year, US-based advocacy group- Refugees International released a controversial report quoting anonymous sources who accused Rwanda of facilitating opposition groups in Burundi to train young men in Mahama camp to attack President Nkurunziza’s government.

Speaking to journalists yesterday during a tour at the camp which hosts 51,000 refugees in Kirehe district, Eastern Rwanda, Volker Türk denied allegations that the Rwandan government is recruiting Burundians.

“I have no indication that this is taking place,” Volker said.

Volker was at the camp along with Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan- who is in Rwanda for high level consultations on Refugee and asylum regime.

Apart from Refugees International report, Burundi has consistently accused Rwanda of backing its opposition.

Reacting to the report last year, Rwanda’s Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, Seraphine Mukantabana, termed the accusations as “Continuing baseless allegations.”

For Minister Mukantabana, “Even some few refugees who return home respect all legal requirements.”

In February this year, Rwanda had contemplated to shift Burundian refugees after it became clear that the refugees were insecure as Burundi accused Rwanda of using them to fight the Nkurunziza government.

Rwanda hosts 147,000 refugees from Burundi and DRC established in 6 camps across the country.

Volker expressed satisfaction by the humanitarian measures taken to protect refugees in Rwanda.

He said UNHCR’s mandate is to engage all government to maintain safety and protection of refugees.

“We obviously in each and every situation need to ensure that the civilian and humanitarian character is respected. That is a global responsibility for all of us, and we have discussions with governments around the world about this issue.”

Currently, almost 65 million people are displaced around the world, and UNHCR has a task to maintain their safety especially in refugee camps.




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