29 August 2017

Burundi: Women and Girls Trafficking to Gulf Resume

Photo: This Day
(File photo).

After a period of decline, girls and women trafficking to Gulf countries has been intensifying since the last few days. Minors also try to return to Tanzania through Ruyigi and Cankuzo provinces.

On 16 August, the police arrested 24 women and girls in Kayanza northern province. They were in two minibuses. They said they were going to Uganda to buy goods. The police suspected them.

The police realized that 18 of them had new passports with wrongly completed Yellow Fever Vaccination Card, while 6 others regularly travel to Oman. The police suspected human trafficking and took them to Kayanza Police Station.

"The 18 girls were released while 6 other who are suspected involved in human trafficking remain detained," said Pierre Nkurikiye, the spokesman for the Ministry of Public Security.

On 14 August 2017, the police also arrested 21 young people aged between 12 and 14 years on Musumba area, in Kinyinya commune of Ruyigi province. These minors admit that they intended to go to Tanzania in search of work. In the wake, 4 men were arrested, accused of human trafficking.

According to Pierre Nkurikiye, these men receive FIB 30,000 for each child delivered to their boss in Tanzania. Nkurikiye said the case is being examined.

Some suffer ordeal while others find opportunities

Muyinga residents say girls and women resume their departure to Golf countries. "Today, they go in secret. It's not like last year," said C.H, a Muyinga resident.

Sources on the spot say at least 2 girls have recently gone to Oman in August. "Others go there in secret. Their families say they have gone to visit their relatives in Bujumbura."

Muyinga residents also speak about the departures from Buurundi to Malawi and Zimbabwe. "There are young girls who go there most often. They encounter many problems once there," said Pierre Claver, a resident of Swahili neighborhood.

The phenomenon resumes after a period of respite

"This phenomenon resumes after months of respite. Today, girls and women go to Golf countries through Kampala," said Pierre Nkurikiye. He also said the police are following the case closely to see if it is a new wave of human trafficking or that they are isolated cases.

Jacques Nshimirimana, the chairman of the National Federation of Associations Engaged in Children's Welfare (FENADEB) says human trafficking is currently done on the sly. "Minors are no longer targeted. It's been three months that we haven't recorded any case of a minor trafficking," he said.

Jacques Nshimirimana finds that it is up to the police to carry out enquiry to find out the purpose of the trips those girls make.

The chairman of FENADEB calls for the setting up of a Commission for consultation and follow-up on the prevention and suppression of human trafficking provided for in Law No 1/28 of 29 October 2014. The latter is about the Prevention and Punishment of Human Trafficking and Protection of victims of trafficking.

"Burundi must sign a bilateral cooperation agreement with the Gulf countries so that these young people go there in compliance with national and international laws," he said.

Nshimirimana says he has already asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss with the Tanzanian authorities to protect these minors who go look for jobs in Tanzania. "The police must also redouble their efforts to arrest these minors who attempt to cross the border illegally," said Nshimirimana.

According to him, people who recruit those girls and women promise them good jobs like becoming businesswomen. "The lucky ones quickly become mistresses of their employers. When they get pregnant, then they have problems with legal wives," said Pierre Claver.

He also said those Burundian girls are kicked out while they do not have money to return to Burundi.

However, Muyinga residents said that among those girls and women who go to Golf countries, there are some who are abused and those who make it in their lives.

According to testimonies, some girls send money to their family members to improve their living conditions. "My father is building another house with the money my sister is sending," said a young man from Muyinga, who wished to remain anonymous.

Other women do commercial activities with money from the Persian Gulf countries. "But no parent will openly admit this," said Martin, aged fifty.

Written by Fabrice Manirakiza & Rénovat Ndabashinze, translated by Lorraine Josiane Manishatse

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