UNHCR: Sharp increase in number of Burundian refugees arriving in Rwanda

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ariane Rummery to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 28 April 2015, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

Over the weekend, the number of Burundian refugees crossing into Rwanda has jumped significantly, with over 5,000 refugees entering the country in just two days. According to the Government of Rwanda, since the beginning of April, nearly 21,000 Burundians, mostly women and children have fled to Rwanda saying that they have experienced intimidation and threats of violence linked to the upcoming elections.

Last Saturday, the official list of candidates to run in the Burundian Presidential elections on 26 June was announced and this has sparked demonstrations and violence in the nation's capital.

The Government of Rwanda has allocated land in Mahama, in the Eastern Province to open a new refugee camp. UNHCR and its partners are working moving refugees to the new Mahama refugee camp in daily convoys of up to 1,500 people. Due to the sharp increase of new arrivals, the conditions in the two reception centers, Bugesera and Nyanza, have become more and more congested and we are expecting to relocate all refugees by Friday 1 May.

Since conducting the rapid assessment mission of the new site in Mahama sector, UNHCR immediately mobilized our teams and partners to erect over 450 family tents to accommodate over 4,000 people, 7 hangars, 80 latrines, 80 showers, a health post and security post. We have already had a safe birth in the new camp, a healthy baby girl nicknamed Baby Mahama. By the end of today we are expecting to receive an additional 1,000 family tents from UNHCR's emergency stockpile in Isaka, Tanzania.

Rwanda is already hosting more than 74,000 refugees, mostly from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

During the month of April, over 3,800 Burundian nationals mostly from Cibitoke prefecture, fled to the province of South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Kinshasa, Celine Schmitt +243 81 700 94 84
  • In Kigali, Martina Pomeroy on mobile + 250 (0)78 830 2769
  • In Kigalil, Erika Fitzpatrick on + 250 (0)78 838 9828
  • In Geneva, Karin de Gruijl on +41 79 255 9213