The Rwandan government is currently in the process of creating a rebel force composed of Burundi refugees. Former UN official Jeff Drumatra served at Rwanda’s Mahama Refugee camp near the Rwandan Burundian border.
There are approximately 45,000 refugees at any given time. The recruitment of refugees takes place during night when fewer officials oversee the camp. Some refugees that do not want to be recruited are afraid for their lives if they refuse. Sometimes they sleep in latrines to avoid being found.
Prominent western voices blame the Burundian president Pierre Nkurunziza for seeking a third term in office for the attempt to create a rebel force. However, critics of US and EU foreign policy say that their real issues are with western corporations’ loss to Russian and Chinese firms in the scramble for Burundi’s natural resources. Burundi is well know for having vast nickel reserves and serves as a strategy border with the resource rich Democratic Republic of the Congo.
There has been little coverage in international news about this issue and absolutely no coverage in the US. Drumtra believes this issue needs international attention because if it is left as a domestic issue and something drastic occurs, then a repeat of the 1994 Rwanda massacre would become possible.
Source: Ann Garrison, “Rwanda Conscripts Burundian Refugees into New ‘Rebel Force’: An Interview with Jeff Drumtra,” San Francisco Bay View, November 27, 2015, sfbayview.com/2015/11/rwanda-conscripts-burundian-refugees-into-new-rebel-force-an-interview-with-jeff-drumtra/
Student Researcher: Harrison Hartman (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)