Mahama (Rwanda) : the assassination of at least eight Burundian refugees creates psychosis

Mahama (Rwanda) : the assassination of at least eight Burundian refugees creates psychosis

Criminality has increased over the past two weeks in the Mahama refugee camp, housing Burundians and Congolese in eastern Rwanda. The most targeted are Burundians while Congolese are singled out as the alleged perpetrators of the murders. Refugees speak of at least eight killed including two whose whereabouts is not known. The police administration organizes security meetings to ease tensions. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

The emblematic case is that of two men beheaded by the unknown not far from the camp.

“It is in any case an extreme crime. Two corpses were found at the end of February, their heads cut nearly two km from the camp. They were later identified as Burundian refugees living in the camp,” Burundians from Mahama said.

“For the other four cases, some were beaten in a fight, others fell into ambushes by young Congolese with sticks in their hands. It is unacceptable and the camp is agitated at the moment, especially since there are also two young Burundians missing including some whose whereabouts is still unknown, we fear they are already dead”, add Burundian community leaders from camp.

Villages 11, 12, 14, 16, 17 and 18 of the Mahama II zone are particularly affected by this crime. This zone is located on the Akagera River which separates Rwanda and Tanzania.

Unilaterally proclaimed curfew

“Burundians have decided to return early before nightfall and to drink beer only in their communities. And then, we don’t know if it’s a plan that’s been concocted to provoke us, but we’ve agreed never to take revenge. But we don’t know if it will last long because we are really openly attacked by our Congolese brothers, ”suggest Burundian refugees.

Mistrust seems to be setting in

“Small groups often form in villages, Burundians on one side and Congolese on the other. And then, we see that mutual aid is no longer done between these two communities since last month. Here, information circulates very quickly, also mixed with rumours. We fear the worst,” they add.


Pacification meetings are led in the camp by administrative and police officials.

This Friday, it was the turn of district 5 where Congolese and Burundian refugees from villages 11 and 12 met. The same pacification meetings were held in the other villages of the Mahama II zone.

“The head of the police officers ensuring security at the camp delivers the same message: he asks the refugees to respect public order, to denounce suspects, to provide information on any dubious information and on acts of crime, to fight against the consumption of drugs and prohibited drinks,” say refugees who attended these meetings.

The police reassure and specify that they have already arrested more than a dozen suspects for investigation into this growing crime. The refugees demand that these investigations succeed and that the perpetrators be punished in accordance with the law, which would contribute to the calm in the camp as they wish.

The Mahama camp has more than 45,000 refugees, mainly Burundians, and a few thousand Congolese.

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