At least two Burundian refugees were shot and killed this past Saturday by Rwandan border control authorities while attempting to cross the border with Tanzania near Mahama camp.
United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement that preliminary information shared by the authorities mentions that the two refugees were killed trying to smuggle drugs into the country.
Rwanda National Police (RNP) said the incident occurred at 3:30am on Saturday.
“… security forces on patrol in Mahama Sector, Kirehe District, fired at a group of smugglers trafficking narcotics across the Akagera River,” said RNP.
“Two of the smugglers shot dead were later identified as refugees from the nearby Mahama Refugee Camp.”
UNHCR said it was “saddened by the loss of refugee lives and urges the authorities to investigate the circumstances of this tragic incident.”
“UNHCR stands by the side of the refugee community in Mahama camp and works closely with the camp managers and community leaders to maintain calm and provide the necessary psychosocial support while waiting for the results of the government investigation.”
The 2015 political crisis in Burundi sparked a refugee crisis in the region with thousands settling at Mahama camp in Rwanda.
Burundi has since urged the refugees to return home, saying the political situation has improved over the last few years.