World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Rwanda, Burundi Re-Label Refugees as 'Illegals'

UN Alarmed As Rwanda and Burundi Re-Label Refugees As 'Illegal Immigrants'

New York, Jun 13 2005 2:00PM

Ignoring pleas from the United Nations refugee agency, Burundi and Rwanda today pressed ahead with an operation to return thousands of Rwandan asylum seekers to their homeland, following a joint announcement this weekend by both governments that the Rwandans were illegal immigrants rather than refugees.

Reacting to the joint statement that the refugees and asylum seekers as would be re-labelled illegal immigrants who had left their home countries "without good reason," the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed alarm, and warned that the decision to re-label refugees could well be in contravention of international refugee law, particularly the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

"The latest decision of the Burundian authorities to conduct a return operation of thousands of asylum seekers while denying UNHCR access to them puts into question the voluntary nature of the returns," said UNHCR's director for Africa, David Lambo.

Rwandan asylum-seekers first arrived in Burundi in March, citing fears over traditional local courts, or gacaca tribunals, looking into the 1994 genocide by Hutu extremists that took the lives of some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. They also cited threats of intimidation, persecution and rumours of revenge as reasons for leaving home. The refugees built makeshift shelters just inside the border in Burundi.

As of this afternoon, the Songore transit centre in northern Burundi was empty, its former residents headed for Rwanda in several truck convoys, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Burundian officials said that all returns from Songore, which until last week hosted some 6,000 Rwandans – although built to house only 800 people – were voluntary. However, it denied UNHCR access to the departure site.

In addition, UNHCR says, eyewitnesses report seeing some asylum seekers jump off the trucks while en route to the border.

Prior to the latest returns, Burundi had hosted some 8,000 Rwandan refugees and asylum seekers. Rwanda hosts close to 7,000 Burundians.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>

ALSO:

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news