6 April 2018

Burundi: Refugees Expulsion Deepens Burundi, Rwanda Tiff

Kigali — THE tense relations between Burundi and Rwanda have deteriorated further after Burundi accused its Central African neighbours of expelling more than 1 600 refugees Burundian refugees.

Burundi alleges these have been deported since the beginning of April because they refused to be recruited to join the armed groups in order to attack their country.

Among those deported to Burundi are women and children.

Rwandan authorities said the refugees expelled had refused to register and formalize their stay. Philippe Nzobonariba, the spokesperson of the Burundi government, refuted the position by Rwanda.

"The official argument put forward to justify their deportation is unfounded," he lashed. He said the Rwandan authorities had also violated the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes region.

Eleven governments in the volatile region signed the pact in 2006 to enhance security.

Nzobonariba said Burundi therefore strongly condemned attempst by Rwanda to destabilize Burundi by exploiting the vulnerable conditions of refugees by enlisting them in criminal activities.

"The forced enlistment of refugees including children minors in armed groups is a serious violation of international treaties and conventions that Rwanda has itself ratified."

While Rwanda had not commented on the allegations, President Paul Kagame, who is also President of the African Union Commission, pledged his commitment to the AU principle of good neighborliness.

Relations between Kagame and Burundi counterpart, Pierre Nkurunziza, have been tense since the latter opposed Nkurunziza's bid for a third term in 2015. Kagame was accused of aiding a coup that sought to unseat Nkurunziza.

Then, Burundi expelled Rwandan diplomat, Desire Nyaruhirira, whom it accused of "trying to destabilize the country."

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