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23 Congolese refugees arrested at tense Rwanda camp

The Rwanda police have arrested 23 DR Congolese refugees following clashes with the security forces at Kiziba camp on Tuesday.

The EastAfrican learnt that police clashed with the refugees as they blocked entry into the camp, allegedly to arrest eight members of the latter’s executive committee and others accused of inciting violent behaviour.

Police said several refugees resorted to violence, throwing stones and attacking security officers, leading to the arrest of the 23.

“Those arrested were handed over to relevant authorities for investigations. Refugees, like all residents of Rwanda, must abide by Rwandan laws,” police said in a late night tweet.

The revolt

Tension, understood to have exacerbated from April 20 when police intensified security at the camp and its surroundings, turned to on-and-off confrontation since Monday when the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees Affairs (MIDIMAR) announced it had dissolved the refugee leadership.

The eight-member refugee executive committee was accused of mobilising the revolt against the government and partner institutions, and particularly denying them access to the camp.

One of the representatives, who spoke to The EastAfrican on Tuesday afternoon, denied the allegations saying they were targeted for refusing to stop voicing their miseries and pushing for repatriation.

“Being on the executive committee is not a position one gets paid for. It is a voluntary work to represent the interests of fellow refugees. I thinks that our leadership is being targeted for refusing to side with the government’s imposed line of leadership,” he said.

Ensure safety

Sources say since deployment of security at the camp, the refugees’ commercial activities and interaction with the general public have been prohibited.

MIDIMAR Director for refugee affairs Jean Claude Rwahama downplayed the Tuesday confrontation, terming it the usual refugees’ resistance against police patrols at the camp.

The situation has remained tense since February 22 when violent food protest broke, leading to over 10 refugees losing lives and several others getting injured.

Police said routine patrols continued in and around the camp to ensure safety for all refugees and other residents of the area.

They further indicated that they were working with different stakeholders to restore calm and order to Kiziba Refugee Camp.

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