The burundian refugees who crossed to Rwanda a couple of weeks ago through Bugarama boarder are now filing a petition to return homeRwanda has informed Burundi to prepare for about 2,500 of their returnees who will be facilitated to leave the country any time after refusing vaccination for their children and boycotting the physical identification and biometrical registration.
On March 30th, Rwanda presented Burundian asylum seekers with a set of rules and conditions to follow or else they fail to qualify for asylum they have been seeking for since early March.
A total of 2523 Burundian asylum seekers are currently hosted in Bugesera, Nyanza and Nyarushishi Transit Centres.
They flocked into Rwanda from Kamanyola refugee camp (DRC) on 7th March seeking refuge amid fears they could be forcibly repatriated back home by Congolese authorities.
A communiqué from Rwanda’s Ministry of Disaster Management and refugees affairs indicates that since their arrival they have refused to go through a process that would allow them to qualify for asylum in Rwanda.
“They have refused to abide by laws and obligations regulating refugees in Rwanda, citing religious beliefs,” reads the communiqué in part.
Latest incident was on March 28thwhen the asylum seekers boycotted the physical identification exercise which was planned across the three Transit centres.
Due to this resistance, 33 leaders of the asylum seekers who were inciting the boycotts were detained by the Rwanda National Police.
The Burundian asylum seekers were told to take not of four key points;
To accept to be vaccinated against Measles Rubella and Polio without further due and all sick/ill persons to seek and receive health services as per the national standards, in view of preventing and protecting against public health threats.
The Government of Rwanda required all asylum seekers present in Rwanda to be individually registered.
They were also reminded that as asylum seekers they are protected from forceful return but they also have an obligation to “comply with the laws of Rwanda, their hosting country.”
Finally, the asylum seekers were assured that being in Rwanda, a country that respects international laws on refugees, they have a right to return home; they might exercise that right at any time.
On Saturday, Midimar told KT Press that, some of the asylum seekers have firmly kept their initial position not to abide by the laws and chose to return home.
“Some of them said they cannot do what is required and said they would rather return to their country of origin,” Jean Claude Rwahama, director of refugees in Midimar told KT Press on Saturday.
Rwahama said, “We have instructed camp managers to establish the list of those who want to repatriate and submit it so that we facilitate them as soon as possible.”
“Ours will be to give them transportation to their country and to liaise with Burundi authorities so that they can receive them,” he said.
Apparently, the Burundian asylum seekers are so much attached to their religious beliefs.
“We have learnt that Virgin Mary Mother of Jesus prevented them from eating some processed food, taking vaccines and biometric registration,” Rwahama said.
News has it that, even before they left their country, issues to do with such beliefs were also involved and they were not in good terms with either the government or the Catholic Church where they claim to belong.
Rwanda hosts close to 100,000 refugees located in Mahama camp-Eastern Rwanda. They fled political turmoil which started in April 2015 when President Nkurunziza decided to run for a third contested term.
Burundian refugees have kept coming in from DRC where it is alleged, they are not assured of protection as refugees.