Burundi Blocks Foreigners at Border as Violence Escalates

Burundi on Monday morning blocked foreigners from entering the country through Rwanda, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded at the border.

Burundian Ambassador to Rwanda was unavailable for comment, as he has reportedly traveled back home.

Only a passenger with a Burundian identity was allowed to cross the border post of Rusizi district, western Rwanda.

“When passengers reached at the border this morning, foreigners had to be blocked on the Burundian side. But this did not stop us from clearing them on the Rwandan side,” a Rwandan official with Immigration department at the border told KTPress.

At least 3000 travelers cross to Burundi through Bugarama border post every day, Immigration officials say. The development comes at a time an influx of Burundian refugees are fleeing into Rwanda.

Sources at the border told KTPress that the situation became intense after a huge influx of Burundi nationals started crossing into Rwanda.

By Monday morning, more than 17700 Burundian refugees had already sheltered at different designated camps across Rwanda. “It’s the biggest influx we have received …so far,” Seraphine Mukantabana, Minister for Disaster Management and refugee affairs said.

Travellers stuck on the Highway to Bugarama Border Post in Burundi. Foreigners are being blocked from entering Burundi while Burundians are blocked from leaving their country.
Travellers stuck on the Highway to Bugarama Border Post in Burundi. Foreigners are being blocked from entering Burundi while Burundians are blocked from leaving their country.

Protests have escalated in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura where five people including a teenager have died from direct shooting.

Latest is that government supported militia, Imbonerakure, are apparently stopping Burundians from leaving the country.

Sources says there is also a military faction that is protecting protesters. Political analysts suspect a possible military clash of the factions that could lead into a coup to dislodge Nkurunziza.

Rwanda remains the main destination for refugees fleeing political violence in neighbouring Burundi.

Minister Mukantabana said, “We are assuring Burundians a comfortable safety in Rwanda.” she said Rwanda is capable of receiving up to 50,000 Burundian refugees.

However, according to Minister Mukantabana, the number is expected to shoot beyond the capacity.

 




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