Bujumbura - Medical staff from the international medical aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have been denied access to Songore, a transit camp for some 7,000 Rwandese that fled to Burundi earlier in May.
The MSF clinic inside the camp is now guarded by Burundese military and medical staff cannot enter the premises, depriving the remaining population from medical care.
Before being denied access MSF was conducting more than a hundred medical consultations a day in Songore.
This latest development comes at a moment that the population of Songore have been declared 'illegal immigrants' by both Rwanda and Burundi.
MSF staff witnessed that, as of yesterday (Sunday June 12), thousands of refugees had already been transported on trucks with military escort back to an unknown location, most likely back to their home country, Rwanda.
"It's unacceptable that our medical staff are denied access to our own health facility in Songore camp, denying medical care to the people in the camp," said Michiel Hofman, Operational Director for MSF.
"Also, by transporting these people back to Rwanda, MSF is not able to continue the medical care for those that were already under treatment. Some families have even been split apart because of family members being referred to a nearby hospital. MSF is very concerned about what can be seen as a forced repatriation where the basic rights of an asylum seeker are being denied."
Almost 8,000 Rwandese fled their country in the past month. According to testimonies to MSF medical staff, people fear arbitrary arrests and intimidation when they return to Rwanda.
Since May 29, these people were forced, by the Burundian government, to live in a transit camp some 20 kilometers away from the border with Rwanda. Last Saturday both Rwanda and Burundi declared the whole group as 'illegal immigrants' despite their request for asylum in Burundi.