Over 30 Burundians stuck in Busia town

Ms Jackeline Auma, a resident of Marachi ‘C’ Village in Busia Town, gives food to one of the Burundian nationals at Marachi
Primary School at the weekend. PHOTO | DAVID AWORI

What you need to know:

  • The group, which is being housed in make shift structures in Marachi Village, Busia Town, had crossed the border to Kenya but security officials there returned them to the Ugandan side.

More than 30 Burundi nationals are stranded at the Busia border without food, water and shelter after fleeing civil unrest in their country.

The group, which is being housed in make shift structures in Marachi Village, Busia Town, had crossed the border to Kenya but security officials there returned them to the Ugandan side.

Mr John Didi, a local council official in Marachi Village, said the group started arriving in the area at around 10am last Friday.

“They are mainly women and children who were repulsed from Kenya after authorities there denied them entry and instead pushed them to the Ugandan side of the border,” Mr Didi said at the weekend.

“Majority of the babies look malnourished, meaning they urgently need food and water,” he added. Ms Erahunda Soziyane, a mother, said she fled her country after their home was attacked and her husband killed.

“I witnessed some killings, including that of my husband, that is why I decided to walk from Burundi to seek a safer place,” Ms Soziyane said.

She said other families joined her to walk to the Mutukula border and attempt to cross into Tanzania but a driver drove them to Busia border after promising to help them cross into Kenya.

“However, when we crossed into Kenya, their police intercepted us and brought us back to Uganda,” Ms Soziyane said, adding that their hope was to either reach Uganda or Kenya so that they are enlisted as asylum seekers.

She said they are currently depending on well-wishers for basic needs. Mr Michael Kibwika, the Busia Resident District Commissioner, said majority of them lack identification documents.

However, Mr Kibwika said he was in touch with the Office of the Prime Minister and the Uganda Red Cross to help the group. He added that they are pursuing efforts to register the Burundian nationals as refugees and take them one of the refugee camps.

Background

Burundi has endured civil unrest since the 2020 elections, according to a 2020 report by the Human Rights Watch, which relates to incidents involving clashes between security forces and armed groups in Cibitoke and other provinces neighbouring DR Congo.

According to the report, the unrest has led to the killings, disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention, and harassment of at least 300, 000 people.

In August, the United Kingdom issued a travel advice due to security-related reasons, warning its nationals against travelling to the provinces of Cibitoke and Bubanza, areas of Bujumbura rural province west of the Rusizi River and the main road running west from Kayanza through the Kibira National Park.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.