When news surfaced of the leaked UN report that alleged Rwanda’s part in training of Burundian refugees to unseat third term seeking President, Pierre Nkurunziza, the country’s foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo did not react happily. In a statement emailed to BBC at the time, she had said quite succinctly;
“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.
The happenings following that leak, with the Rwandan government denying the charges and Burundian government near celebrating that they had been proved right, this recent move by the Rwandan government is not entirely surprising. The government has shared its plans to relocate Burundian refugees that have come to them to other host countries, barely days after being accused of attempting to destabilize its neighbor. It says that the plans to relocate the over 70,000 refugees in its care will proceed immediately.
It is still quite unclear which countries the refugees will be relocated to after they leave Rwanda and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) which agreed that it was concerned about the statement, however also declared that it had received assurance from Rwanda that it would not forcibly expel the refugees. This came out following an urgent meeting between the UNHCR representative in Rwanda and the government minister in charge of refugee affairs.
The government of Rwanda’s reasons for the move seems clear and relevant enough. In the statement released by the government, they give their reasons for the move as follows;
“The callous indifference to the well-known root causes of instability in Burundi, and the refugee exodus is troubling. It also exposes refugees to increased threats from forces at home and compromises lasting political solutions. For Rwanda, the growing risks to our national security from the Burundian impasse and misunderstandings in our foreign relations are unacceptable.”