More than 500 families from Kagaragara locality of Buringa Commune in Bubanza western province of Burundi have been forcibly moved from their homes. They are all camping out around Buringa zone office. They say no one is helping them and call on Burundian authorities to bring them back to their lands.
“We arrived here on Sunday 18 December after the defense forces have forced us to leave our homes for reasons that have not so far been communicated to us. We came from Kagaragara locality of Buringa commune in Bubanza province, “says one of the displaced people.
He says he thought soldiers were going to carry out a search operation as usual when he saw them surrounding the area. “They ordered us to come out of the houses and get out our belongings before taking us to the Buringa zone office,” he says.
He says he does not understand why they have been displaced from their lands while they have been living there for a long time. “I am 45 years old now. I have been living in Kagaragara area since my birth”, he says.
He asked the government of Burundi to bring them back to their homes, explaining that they carried out many development projects there. “We had rice fields, banana and manioc plantations. We formed development associations each one with more than 1,000 members. We do not understand the motives behind our displacement from the locality. We lived in peace, “he says.
“We will die of hunger”
Nakintije Mélanie says it is deplorable for a Burundian citizen to be kicked out of his/her land and home without any explanation. “We’ve been here since Sunday. We left our possessions in our houses, we cannot go back to retrieve them. We are unhappy and have nothing to eat here. No authority has so far come to assist us. We cannot get medical treatment because we left administrative documents in our houses,” says Nakintije. Some children are obliged to drop out of school because they have left their school materials and there is no food to eat.
“We used bank credits to grow rice. How will we pay back loans when we no longer have access to our fields? We plead with the President of the Republic, MPs elected in the constituency to come and see our plight,” says Nakintije.
Tharcisse Niyongabo, Bubanza Province governor, said on the national radio that Kagaragara residents were moved from their lands for security reasons. He said there are criminals who destabilize the country from the Rukoko Natural Park. “We cannot fight them as long as Kagaragara residents are still there,” said Niyongabo. He also said the decision to displace them has been taken to protect the environment. Niyongabo also said some Kagaragara inhabitants cultivate within the boundaries of the Natural Reserve of Rukoko while others practice poaching, which is prohibited by the Burundi environmental code.