12 February 2016

East Africa: Rwanda to Relocate Burundian Refugees

The Government has announced that it will begin relocating Burundian refugees who fled the ongoing conflict in their country.

Rwanda is host to about 75,000 refugees.

According to statement released early Friday morning by the Office of the Government Spokesperson, Rwanda will "immediately begin working with partners in the international community to plan the orderly and safe relocation of Burundian refugees to third countries."

Foreign Minister and Government Spokesperson Louise Mushikiwabo pointed out that while Rwanda readily shoulders its obligations to protect and care for refugees, experience in the Great Lakes is that the long-term presence of refugees so close to their country of origin carries considerable risks for all involved.

"The callous indifference to the well known root causes of instability in Burundi, and the refugee exodus‎ is troubling. It also exposes refugees to increased threats from forces at home and compromises lasting political solutions."

"For Rwanda, the growing risks to our national security from the Burundian impasse and misunderstandings in our foreign relations are unacceptable."

Rwanda has previously requested international partners and organisations to host Burundians living in camps and in towns in Rwanda.

"No party has come forward yet, even as the political situation in the refugees' country of origin shows no improvement," the statement read in part.

Minister Mushikiwabo said that for Rwanda and the region, the costs of repeating past mistakes of political mismanagement and international politicking, at Rwanda's expense, are too high.

This new development comes after a leaked UN report alleged that Rwanda was training Burundian rebels.

The report cited "testimonies" from up to seven Burundians found in DR Congo forests as the evidence for the accusations.

The Government has previously cautioned against using Rwanda as a scapegoat for crisis in Burundi.

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