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Burundian group decides to voluntarily return home

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The UNHCR Representation in Rwanda expresses its appreciations to the Government of Rwanda for fulfilling the wishes of the Burundian displaced persons to return in safety and dignity.

Over 2,500 Burundians, who had entered Rwanda from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on March 7, have expressed their willingness to return home.

UNHCR has been informed by the members of the group that the decision to return is voluntary.

The Government of Rwanda has mobilized a fleet of buses to transport them to the border with Burundi in a safe and dignified manner on 1st and 2nd April 2018.

During their stay in Rwanda, key UN agencies such as UNHCR, WHO and UNICEF together with key governmental ministries namely MIDIMAR, the Ministry of Health, etc. discussed with the refugee leaders the obligation to comply with the national laws, including biometric registration and mandatory vaccination. The group had refused to comply, saying their beliefs did not allow them to accept biometric registration and vaccination. Due to refusal to biometric registration, the Government of Rwanda could not recognize them as asylum-seekers. In addition to that, their refusal to comply with the mandatory vaccination campaign as instructed by the Ministry of Health has also created an important issue.

The group arrived from Kamanyola, a small town in the DRC, where they lived for three years and identify themselves as followers of Zebiya, a woman from Businde in Burundi, who claimed to have had visions of Saint Mary starting from her early childhood.

This group, when in Rwanda, stayed in Nyarushishi Transit Center, Nyanza Reception Center and Bugesera Reception Center, where they were provided with basic assistance. The majority of these Burundians are women and children.

The Representation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kigali, Rwanda, expresses its appreciations to the Government of Rwanda for fulfilling the wishes of the Burundian displaced persons to return in safety and dignity. UNHCR, also expressed its appreciation to the UN Resident Coordinator, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, ICRC, Rwandan Red Cross, GHDF, ADRA, AHA and WVI for their positive collaboration and for facilitating the provision of assistance in terms of protection and basic needs to this group throughout their stay in Rwanda.