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Rwanda will continue to protect Burundi refugees assures official

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Burundian refugees in Rwanda should not worry about their safety and security, the government will continue to protect them, says a senior official of Rwanda’s ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee affairs.

Seraphine Mukantabana, Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee affairs told reporters on Monday that Burundian refugees were safe on the Rwandan soil, and dismissed reports of refugee crackdown.

She made this remark during the ceremony to mark the World refugee Day in the Rwanda’s capital Kigali that was attended by UN refugee agency and Rwanda government officials.

"Rwanda respects international obligations of accommodating refugees and ensuring their safety until peace is restored to allow repatriation to their home countries," she said.

Last month Burundian officials told news agencies that over 1,500 Burundians who have been seeking refuge in Rwanda were expelled for "political reasons" but Rwanda denied accusations saying that those who were expelled were living in the country illegally.

"Reports and accusations will keep coming, but we will have to deal with it. People will continue ‘politicizing’ the issue without tangible evidence," Mukantabana noted.

She stated that the recent crackdown on illegal immigrants did not target Burundians but all foreigners.

"We shall continue supporting the government of Rwanda to ensure the security and safety of the refugees in the country," Saber Azam, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)country representative to Rwanda said.

Presently, Rwanda hosts about 75,000 refugees from Burundi residing in seven refugee camps across the country.

Rwanda Foreign Minister Louis Mushikiwabo last month told members of parliament that the Burundian refugee issue was political in nature rather than being humanitarian.

The small central African country is home to 160,000 refugees mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.

UNHCR indicates there are over 63 million people worldwide who are forced to flee their homes due to war or human rights abuses.

World Refugee Day which falls on June 20 each year is dedicated to raise awareness of the plight of refugees across the globe.


UNHCR commend co-operation with Burundi government in assisting refugees

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- As the international community marked the World Refugee Day Monday, the United Nations Refugee Agency has "highly" commended the cooperation existing between the UNHCR and the Burundian government in the sector of assisting refugees.

"As we celebrate the World Refugee Day, I take this opportunity to highly commend cooperation existing between the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Burundian government," said Madani Tall, deputy-representative of the UN Refugee Agency in Burundi during ceremonies marking the refugee day in the Burundian capital Bujumbura where urban refugees had gathered at Tempete playground.

Ceremonies were characterized by a soccer game between a team of urban refugees and a team of partners in the sector of assisting refugees and asylum seekers.

Other events on the agenda were cultural songs and dances performances as well as an exhibition of products manufactured by refugees.

Ceremonies marking the World Refugee Day also took place at Kavumu refugee camp in the Burundian eastern province of Cankuzo.

The refugee day however comes at a time when urban refugees face challenges notably in terms of access to medical services.

"It is hard for us to have access to medical services because we have to pay 50 percent of fees in medical structures," said Lucie Bisako, an urban refugee who fled from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) in 2002, living in Gatumba town near the border with Burundi.

UNHCR Deputy-Representative in Burundi Madani Tall said, "A pilot project has been launched to look at ways of boosting urban refugees’ access to health services, but refugees should not be more privileged than Burundian nationals."

Burundi hosts at least 55 thousand refugees living in four refugee camps including Gasorwe in Muyinga province, Musasa in Ngozi province, Bwagiriza in Ruyigi province and Kavumu in Cankuzo province.

Tall indicated that about 20 thousand of the refugees in Burundi are urban refugees.

He added that 90 percent of refugees living in Burundi are from the DR Congo.

Burundi ruling party to elect new leaders in two months

BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- The Burundian ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), will have new leaders within two months, the party said Sunday while concluding a congress.

The two-day national extraordinary congress was held in Ngozi town, 125 km north of the Burundian capital Bujumbura.

"As we are concluding the party congress, I would like to say that activities of the congress are very satisfactory.

"Activities mainly focused on amending the party constitution and its internal rules.

"We want the party to be stronger and to get more members and friends," said Pascal Nyabenda, chairman of the Burundian ruling party.

Nyabenda added that the several amendments were made with regards to the party organs.

"We will take the new amendments to the country’s home affairs ministry for endorsement,"he said.

CNDD-FDD Spokesman Daniel Gelase Ndabirabe indicated that the current party leaders will be "replaced" within two months, adding that mini congresses will first be held at the village level to explain the new amendments to the party members.

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, who attended the ruling party extraordinary congress, declared that the ruling party is going to be "stronger" than ever before.



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