Rwanda plans to relocate Burundian refugees

AP News
Posted: Feb 12, 2016 9:56 AM
Rwanda plans to relocate Burundian refugees

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — Rwanda's government said Friday it plans to relocate 75,000 Burundian refugees to other countries following accusations that Rwanda is harboring and training rebels opposed to the Burundian government.

The Burundian government has accused Rwanda of training and arming rebels to fight in Burundi, charges Rwandan President Paul Kagame has vigorously denied. Burundi has been plagued by violence since President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to seek a third term last April.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said in a statement Friday that her government will immediately begin working with partners in the international community to plan the orderly and safe relocation of Burundian refugees to third countries.

Mushikiwabo said that "the refugee exodus is troubling ... For Rwanda, the growing risks to our national security from the Burundian impasse and misunderstandings in our foreign relations are unacceptable."

A U.N. panel of experts has made similar allegations against Rwanda, saying in a new report that refugees from Burundi received training from Rwandan military personnel last year with the goal of removing Nkurunziza from power. The experts spoke to 18 Burundian combatants who said they had been recruited at the Mahama refugee camp in eastern Rwanda in May and June 2015 and that their numbers total four companies of 100 recruits each.

Witnesses say that killings, torture and other human rights abuses are the result of a Burundian government crackdown on opposition members. More than 400 people have been killed there since the violence began.