Steady Stream of Burundian Refugees into Rwanda Continues (UPDATED)

Burundian refugees register before boarding to Mahama Camp/Photo UNCHR

Arrivals data from the UN refugees agency (UNHCR) shows that Burundian refugees that have crossed into Rwanda since the crisis there erupted back in mid 2015 have reached 94,581 people of April 25.

The last period update, also shared by the Rwandan Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) indicates that 84,597 Burundians had crossed over as of March 30.

This shows that about 10,000 Burundians have been recorded over the past month. However, the UNHCR says of those, 9,236 have been temporarily inactivated – either by leaving their refugee registration at the border when leaving the country, or by missing three consecutive food distributions in Mahama camp.

As of April this year, only 406 Burundian refugees are still on the register. In March, there were 595 new arrivals; 791 in February; and 732 in January, for a total of 2,524 new Burundian arrivals so far this year.

This means the total number of Burundian refugees who fled since April 2015 and who remain actively registered as refugees in Rwanda is 85,345, says UNHCR office in Rwanda.

What is however clear is that there are thousands of Burundians who have fled to Rwanda, and still continue to arrive, but do not register as refugees. They live in established neighborhoods, either by renting own houses or live with Rwandan families.

According to latest update from Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR), Burundian refugees outnumber the figure of other refugees from neighboring countries.

Refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are numbered to 74,267 on top of another small number of refugees from Great Lakes region and beyond.

Increasing number of refugees would in near future become a burden for Rwanda.

Speaking to KT Press recently, Seraphine Mukantabana, the Minister of MIDIMAR said, “We are still in negotiations with other countries requesting them to consider taking a number of Burundian refugees because we are falling short of land where to host them.”

Previously, Rwanda had taken a decision to smoothly relocate Burundian refugees to other countries following unfounded claim from Burundi government, that Rwanda was fueling crisis in Burundi.

“We have not yet got any country willing to host the refugees,” said Mukantabana.

Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency last week released a statement indicating that Mahama, the biggest Burundian refugee camp in Rwanda – 53,490 refugees is becoming a town with decent life.

About 414,000 Burundian refugees fled a crisis that followed President Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term, exactly two years ago(April 25,2015).

Political crisis in the country is only worsening; food security has added to constant killings of not only innocent civilians, but also senior military officers and politicians.

 




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