VOA Afrique: NGO denounces recruitment of Burundian refugees in Rwanda by armed groups

The NGO Refugees International denounces the recruitment by "armed groups" of Burundian refugees in the Mahama camp in Rwanda, including children, and calls for sanctions.

Burundian refugees in Rwanda are recruited by "armed groups" in violation of international law, denounces the NGO Refugees International (RI) which calls, in a report released Monday, December 14, the international community to "punish" those responsible.

However, the Burundian government had already criticized Rwanda for hosting Burundian opponents and tolerating the recruitment of opponents in these camps. But Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, along with her colleague in charge of refugees, Seraphine Mukantabana, had already formally denied the allegations.

In this report titled "Right of asylum undermined: recruitment of Burundian refugees in Rwanda", RI points to the "recruitment of Burundian refugees inside the Mahama refugee camp (in south-east Rwanda) by non-state armed groups, including the recruitment of children ".

The American NGO said to have based in particular on testimonies collected in Rwanda in September and October 2015.

More than 70,000 Burundians, according to the UN, have fled to Rwanda since the start of violence in their country.

"Threat to peace"

"The arming of Burundian refugees in Rwanda would not only represent a serious violation of international law, but also a serious threat to peace in Burundi and the region as a whole," said Michael Boyce, one of the report's drafters.

The NGO calls on Rwanda, accused by Burundi to support an embryonic rebellion, to ensure that "any recruitment of refugees ceases immediately". It also urges the African Union (AU) and the UN "to punish the actors - whether Burundian or Rwandan - violating the civilian and humanitarian nature of the right of asylum."

Some refugees say they were "dragged inside Rwanda ... by people who speak Kinyarwanda (national language of Rwanda, ed) and wearing military uniforms," I details.

Recruiters pressure

According to the NGO, which campaigns for the protection of displaced persons, there are reports of "verbal and written threats, harassment, intimidation and physical attacks against refugees who refuse to be enlisted".

The pressure is such that some are forced to "sleep in the showers or latrines" camp to escape their recruiters, according to RI.

According to the report, some Burundian refugees claim to have been threatened with arrest by Rwandan officials after complaining of attempts to force them to be drafted.

Since the beginning of unrest in late April in Burundi, hundreds of people have been killed in severely repressed demonstrations, then clashes between police and protesters, and more than 200,000 people have left the country, according to the report. 'UN.

On Friday alone, 87 people were killed in coordinated attacks on three military camps, the most serious violence incident since a failed military coup in May.

This piece originally appeared here