KIGALI (AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) - Rwanda is to relocate refugees from Burundi to other countries, the government said Friday (Feb 12), amid accusations Kigali was meddling in the affairs of its troubled neighbour.
"The government of Rwanda... will immediately begin working with partners in the international community to plan the orderly and safe relocation of Burundian refugees to third countries," the statement read.
Last week United Nations experts told the Security Council that Rwanda has recruited and trained refugees from Burundi, among them children, who wanted to remove Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza from power. Burundi has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing rebels intent on overthrowing the government in Bujumbura. Kigali has fiercely denied the accusations.
"Rwanda readily shoulders its obligations to protect and care for refugees," the government statement said. "However, experience in the Great Lakes is that the long-term presence of refugees so close to their country of origin carries considerable risks for all involved."
Burundi has been in turmoil since Nkurunziza announced plans last April to run for a third term, which he went on to win. Hundreds of people have been killed and at least 230,000 have fled the country.
"The callous indifference to the well known root causes of instability in Burundi, and the refugee exodus is troubling," Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said.
"It also exposes refugees to increased threats from forces at home and compromises lasting political solutions. For Rwanda, the growing risks to our national security from the Burundian impasse and misunderstandings in our foreign relations are unacceptable."