Seventy thousand out of the two hundred and forty thousand people who have left Burundi due to its crisis are reportedly living in Rwanda. The massive evacuation which was caused by the current President Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term causing an escalation in violence from groups opposed to the idea, is once again in the news due to a leaked UN report which furthers allegations that Rwanda is training Burundian refugees who aim to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza.
The allegations have formerly been forwarded by Burundi’s government and the report which was seen by the Reuters news agency, which may corroborate the governments fears, is based on evidence from 18 Burundian fighters. Just last July, the government had accused Rwanda of allowing rebels to cross into the North-West of the country.
The report claims investigators had spoken with 18 of the Burundian rebels who claimed to have been trained in Rwanda to use grenades, antitank mines and rocket-propelled grenades. It goes on to say that the rebels which were inclusive of six children, had been recruited from a refugee camp in eastern Rwanda last year and given fake Congolese identifications, with which they could be slipped undetected into Congo. They said that the instructors included Rwandan military personnel and that up to 400 recruits had been gotten.
The UN experts behind the report gathered the evidence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they had been and still are monitoring UN sanctions. The report said; “They were transported around Rwanda in the back of military trucks, often with Rwandan military escort…They reported that their ultimate goal was to remove Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza from power.”
Rwanda has aggressively denied the accusation, with Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo saying in a statement emailed to the BBC, “The unfounded allegations come from the fact that Rwanda has been hosting refugees considered hostile to [the government in Burundi’s capital] Bujumbura,”. She further dismissed the evidence saying that Burundi should look within as its crisis was of its own making and the people should concentrate there, rather than go looking for scapegoats.