2,300 Tutsi Refugees in Burundi to be Repatriated to Congo


It is just like a cliché, with the same thing that happened to us years ago in Zimbabwe repeating itself in Burundi. Only we were able to gain a little support from the UN, despite losing 73 of our fellow refugees who were deported back to Congo and forced into the Army and prison. I was left a fugitive for three whole years but finally the UN rescued me from the careless and cruel government of Zimbabwe.

A while ago I wrote an article about a the Banyamulenge entitled “A People without a Nation.” It stirred a lot of criticism and showed that the healing has not yet taken place in the heart of Africa, with every tribe and nation wanting to be the victim of the war that started long before the '94 genocide in Rwanda. But for me I always want to speak like a healer and a healed man. I always say that the Rwandese Hutus have suffered the most in this conflict that seems not to slow down any day soon.

But next to them, we are going to see the Banyamulenge or as they are called, Congolese Tutsi.

Looking at the incident in Burundi that started on the 8th of October when, the Congolese Tutsi refused to go to a new refugee camp located near the border of Tanzania for security reasons, looking at what happened in Gatumba camp in 2004 when they were attacked by the Interahamwe militias and killed like flies, they have all the right not to accept being placed in that situation again. Whoever knows what happened in Gatumba may agree with them not going near a border again.

But why does the UN and the Burundian government want them there? Dead!

About 2,300 of these refugees refused to go to the new camp and asked to rather be deported to their home country, which is Congo, placed in 11 lorries on the way to Congo.

They were denied entry at the Kavimvira border that borders Uvira and Burundi.

Now the Congolese government is asking for more time in order to prepare a place for them in the Congo. The UN knows how unsafe it is for these people to return to Congo, a place they were chased from years ago as Rwandese Tutsi, but all they said is: "If they have decided to return, they are doing it on their own responsibility. We have certainly been informing them for months that the situation in eastern DRC, in the South Kivu Province, is not conducive for returns because of the fighting that is going on there and that situation is still very dangerous and risky."

Well, why then can’t they fix the situation in Burundi to fit them? The whole world knows better that if these Rwandese Tutsi return to Congo, they will not be safe.

With the Mai-Mai rebels alive and dangerous, the Hutus in the mountains of Congo and the Congolese people that still keep the memory of how they were treated by Tutsis in 2006 to 2009, these people won’t be safe. I almost got killed in my own country for being tall and skinny. They thought I was a Tutsi.

Congo is not safe to welcome the Banyamulenge now and if the UN and the Congolese government let them in, they are just allowing genocide. I feel for these people, not because I think they are better than anyone but we have lost so many people in this part of Africa and we wouldn’t want the numbers to keep increasing. With 800,000 people killed in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the number of the Hutus killed not mentioned anywhere but between those killed in Rwanda and Burundi and Congo it might be more than a million and then over 5,000,000 in the Congo, you would think they would have sympathy for us when situations like these emerge.

These Tutsi refugees are not accepted by the people in the Congo and Rwanda despite the United Nation regarding them as Congolese. In Congo they are regarded as enemies and the people that killed, raped and disgraced them, if they’re sent there, I will just conclude how much no one cares about refugees. Give them a safe place in Burundi or leave them in Gihinga Camp where they were happy since the genocide of Gatumba.

We'll be waiting for the decision from Kinshasa on Friday October 16 to know how refugees are really considered. A lot of refugees families in Boise and around the world are in communication with their loved ones to know where they will be sent. Prayers are many that it’s not to Congo.