Tags: AF | Rwanda | Burundi Refugees | Africa

Citing Political Pressure, 5,000 Burundians Flee to Rwanda

Wednesday, 15 Apr 2015 08:29 AM

More than 5,800 Burundian refugees have crossed into Rwanda since the end of last month amid fears of violence ahead of elections later this year, the United Nations refugee agency said Wednesday.

Hundreds of Burundians are crossing the border daily, most of them children. At least 800 of the refugees arrived in Rwanda on Tuesday, UNHCR said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press.

"We have ... observed a very sharp increase in arrivals in recent days, of which over 60 percent are children," said Saber Azam, the UNHCR representative in Rwanda. He said resources are stretched "which may soon require us to appeal to the international community for additional emergency support."

The UNHCR statement said the refugees cite disappearances of relatives and pressure to pledge allegiance to the ruling party among reasons for fleeing their small East African country. Other refugees cite fear of a youth militia as elections approach in Burundi, according to UNHCR. Presidential elections are scheduled for June 26.

That militia, known as Imbonerakure, is made up of members of the ruling party's youth league and is often accused of violating human rights in the northern parts of Burundi.

Human Rights Watch has accused the Imbonerakure of participating in the recent killing of at least 47 members of an armed group who surrendered in the northern province of Cibitoke.

The rights group said following an investigation that the Cibitoke killings — carried out between Dec. 30, 2014 and Jan. 3, 2015 — were "part of a broader pattern of extrajudicial executions" by Burundian security forces and the Imbonerakure.

Burundian authorities have denied the allegations, saying they are also investigating what happened in Cibitoke.

President Pierre Nkurunziza has not publicly said if he will seek a third term.

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Africa
More than 5,800 Burundian refugees have crossed into Rwanda since the end of last month amid fears of violence ahead of elections later this year, the United Nations refugee agency said Wednesday.
AF, Rwanda, Burundi Refugees, Africa
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2015-29-15
Wednesday, 15 Apr 2015 08:29 AM
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