3 February 2018

Burundi: 8,000 Congolese Flee to Burundi

Burundi has in the past week received more than 8,000 refugees fleeing the fighting between Mai Mai rebels and government forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Burundian government officials said that refugees continue to arrive from DRC's South Kivu to the southwestern port of Rumonge on Lake Tanganyika.

The refugees said they used boats to cross the lake in a treacherous five-hour journey to the fishing port.

"I used to work in South Kivu but lived with my family in Uvira," said 54-year-old Bunge Semphorie.

"We fled because the government launched rockets on our homes, accusing us of supporting the Mai Mai."

Uvira is a port city on the northern end of Lake Tanganyika on the DRC side.

The Congolese refugees who are being registered at Rumonge, are expected to be transferred to camps.

This is not the first time the Congolese government is confronting the Mai Mai rebels in their South Kivu stronghold.

Last September, government forces sank two boats suspected to have been transporting rebels near Uvira.

According to the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs, Uvira has been a trouble spot in the post-colonial Congo.

The UN says at least 1.3 million people have been displaced in the troubled eastern DRC.

Human-rights groups say political violence and government repression have continued in DRC as President Joseph Kabila continues to hold on to power after his second term ended in December.

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