Burundi Refugee Influx Overwhelms Rwanda

Burundian Refugees flooding into  Rwanda

The Government of Rwanda has resolved to grant Prima Facie refugees’ status to Burundians who continue to flee to Rwanda, Chimp Corps report.

The decision was taken considering the overwhelming number of Burundians who continue to cross the border to seek safe haven to Rwanda whereby the daily average has gone over 800 refugees.

The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs said in a statement on Friday evening that the “decision to grant Prima facie Refugees status to Burundians is in accordance with Article 13 of the Law Relating to Refugees in Rwanda and the 1951 Convention Relating to refugees where by population fleeing in mass influx are unconditionally granted refugees status.”

As of Thursday April 23, 2015, the number of Burundians refugees received in Rwanda had reached 11,000, which complicates the procedure to determine their status at individual basis.

During mass movements of refugees (usually as a result of conflicts or generalized violence as opposed to individual persecution), there is not – and never will be – a capacity to conduct individual asylum interviews for everyone who has crossed the border.

Nor is it usually necessary, since in such circumstances it is generally evident why they have fled. As a result, such groups are often declared “prima facie” refugees.

The Refugees claim they are running away from Burundi’s ruling party youth wing, Imbonerakure (Hutu) which UN recently said was being armed to perpetrate violence in opposition areas dominated by the Tutsi.

The tensions continue to rise in Burundi over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s determination to hang onto power and participate in the May presidential elections.

Nkurunziza and President Paul Kagame recently met in Huye on the border with Burundi to discuss the refugee crisis.

New camp established

In order to meet basic protections requirement for the influx of Burundian refugees, the government of Rwanda has also established a new camp in Mahama in Kirehe District to avoid the congestion in existing reception centres mainly Bugesera and Nyanza.

The relocation of Burundian refugees from reception centres to the new camp started on Tuesday April 21, 2015 with those hosted in Nyamiyaga camp in Nyanza District in the Southern Province.

“The exercise will continue till all refugees are relocated from all existing transit centres to the new camp,” said the Ministry.

“The relocation of Burundian refugees in Mahama refugee’s camp is meant to resettle them far from the borders of their country to comply with the International refugees convention.”


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