Cibitoke: when land spoliaton pushes owners into exile

Cibitoke: when land spoliaton pushes owners into exile

In a period of three months, more than 300 people fled the communes of Rugombo and Buganda in the province of Cibitoke (north-west of Burundi). They decided to go into exile following the spoliation of their land, now occupied by high dignitaries. The group went to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The regional provincial administration minimizes the affair. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

At least 350 inhabitants of the communes of Rugombo and Buganda in Cibitoke province fled in less than 3 months and found refuge at the Sange refugee transit site in the Rusizi plain, Uvira territory in the province of South Kivu in the east of the DRC.

According to various concordant sources, these inhabitants took the path of exile after being arbitrarily expelled from their lands.

“I own 6 hectares in the locality of Mbaza-Miduha on Rukana hill, commune of Rugombo. I was ordered to vacate the premises by COGERCO (Cotton Management Company), arguing that is a state domain, while I had lived there for more than half a century”, indignantly an octogenarian reached by telephone from the other side of the Rusizi.

The administrator of the municipality of Rugombo currently owns fields of various crops there.

Same story for this man from the commune of Buganda, father of 10 children, who crossed the border with his whole family a month ago.

According to his words, “by order of the local authorities, he was forced to leave his landed property inherited from his great-grandfather”. The argument put forward without any tangible proof is that he exploits a landed property belonging to the State.

Our sources say that without land to cultivate and following the famine, some inhabitants are forced to flee.

All these asylum seekers are asking UNHCR for assistance in terms of food and bedding. They also want to be transferred to a refugee camp to have the status.

According to several sources, most of the land thus recovered ends up in the hands of dignitaries – military, police and civilians close to the presidential party.

“These are fabricated lies to steal our land,” laments a grassroots administrative source.

The latter gives the example of the immense expanses of land belonging to the Agro Industrial Complex of Rugombo (RUGOFARM) but despoiled by the CNTB (Commission of Lands and other property) in favor of the State.

“Initially, everything led to believe that the simple peasants were going to have the right to exploit these lands, but only senior officials close to the CNDD-FDD party own large tracts of land there, to the great displeasure of the peasants”, regrets a young man from Rugombo who is currently in the Sange transit site.

The governor of Cibitoke invites the population to respect the measures of the State and asks them to return the land belonging to the public domain.

Regarding the former landed estates of RUGOFARM, Carême Bizoza indicates that they are currently exploited by farmers grouped together in Sangwe cooperatives (dominated by militants of the presidential party). However, this authority refuses to comment on reports of a stranglehold by senior military and political dignitaries close to the ruling party on most of the land in this complex. He indicates that these are lies.

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