10 February 2016

Burundi Nationals Seek Asylum in Kenya After Fleeing Unrest

Photo: Le Pays
A street in Bujumbura (file photo).

Two Burundi nationals are seeking asylum at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, saying they fear for their lives after allegedly being sought by a youth wing associated with President Pierre Nkurunziza.

The two, Nikoyagize Egide, 27, and Niyonkuru Akchoon, 22, who are currently in Mombasa, said they got to Kenya through the Taveta border as they ran for their lives following the unrest in their country.

While narrating their tale to the Nation Tuesday, Mr Akchoon said they fled Burundi together with four of their colleagues who were among anti-Nkurunziza protestors after members of the ruling party National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD-FDD)'s Imbonerakure youth wing started hunting them down.

He said the militia group, allegedly financed by the Nkurunziza government, was hunting and killing anyone opposed to the president and his bid for a third term.

"I was part of the young men who were on the streets protesting against President Pierre Nkurunziza's holding on to power. We have been trailed and so far four of us have been killed. We were the lucky ones who managed to flee from Bujumbura," Mr Akchoon said.


He said they hiked a ride on a truck driver who was bound for Mombasa through Tanzania.

However the Department for Refugee Affairs in Kenya has abandoned them after issuing them with refugee permits, he said.

"We arrived in Kenya on January 24 and managed to get to the immigration offices at Uhuru Na Kazi where we were directed to the Department for Refugee Affairs (DRA) offices in Bombolulu. An officer there issued us with permits but failed to give us a way forward," he added.

The two are currently being hosted by a Good Samaritan, Mrs Jane Wamala, who picked them at the Bombolulu office.

Mrs Wamala said she is now fearing for their security after staying with them for close to a month as they are vulnerable.


"I decided to host them so as to buy time for the DRA to facilitate their way to Kakuma camp but it is now three weeks and no action has been taken despite making calls of assistance to the officers in charge.

They seem not to care of their welfare but I am worried of their security," said Mrs Wamala.

She added that since they were not fluent in English or Kiswahili, the two refugees feared moving around to look for jobs.

Haki Africa coordinator Francis Auma said the two were at risk of being radicalised to join extremist groups.

"They are vulnerable, they can be mobbed, mistaken to be thieves, they are already victims of trafficking. They can be picked to join Al-Shabaab as they have nothing to lose.

"We are calling on the DRA to facilitate these young men get to the refugee camp as they have no problem with that," Mr Auma said.

He accused the department of neglecting the Burundi refugees. He added that the refugee passes in their possession were almost expiring and they will be deemed to be illegally in the country.

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