Rwandan Nationals, we don’t want them in Burundi

Burundi
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We don’t want people from Rwanda in Burundi. This is the message by the Burundi president after he closed the borders of his country to neighboring East African Community member Rwanda.

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Tour operators in Kigali, Rwanda had been offering tours to Burundi for visitors, saying it’s a rich cultural experience and crossing the border costs $45 and takes about 15 minutes. The border reopened in 2022 after it was closed for 6 years. As of today crossing the border between the two rival East African countries is no longer possible.

There’s a substantial risk of crime in Burundi. Muggings at gun and knifepoint, bag snatching, pick-pocketing, burglary, car break-ins, and armed car hijackings have all been reported. Avoid walking in the streets or using public transport after dark, even in Bujumbura city center. Visitors are urged not to carry large amounts of money.

In 2022 Burundi hosted the East African Tourism Conference.

This cooperation is currently on ice, after Burundi president Evariste Ndayishimiye blamed his neighbor for having supported a rebel group that staged a deadly attack in Burundi close to its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. This rebel attack killed 20 people on December 22.

The government of Rwanda stated that it “regrets the unilateral closure of the border by Burundi”.

“This unfortunate decision will restrict the free circulation of people and goods between the two countries and violate the principles of regional cooperation and the integration of the East Africa Community,” a statement said.

The RED-Tabara rebel group, based in South Kivu province in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was established in 2011 and is currently the most active faction among the rebel forces in Burundi, believed to have between 500 and 800 fighters.

Burundi’s Interior Minister Martin Niteretse informed reporters that our borders with Rwanda have been shut down. Anyone attempting to cross will be denied entry as per the official decision.

The president added saying Rwanda is sheltering criminals who harm Burundians.

For several years, Burundian forces have been engaging in collaborative operations with their Congolese counterparts to combat rebels in the turbulent and resource-abundant eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a region that has long been afflicted by multiple armed factions.

The M23 rebellion, which is supported by Rwanda according to Western governments and the United Nations, is faced with allegations that Kigali denies.

“Rwandan nationals, we don’t want them,” the president made clear.

Rwanda, in a separate post on X, refuted allegations of civilian casualties, asserting that the organization receives no backing from any nation but solely relies on the support of the Burundian populace.

In November 2022, Burundi became part of an East African contingent sent to suppress the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, Burundi’s troops pulled out recently when Kinshasa declined to prolong the mission’s authority.

About the author

Avatar of Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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