Congolese students go on strike amid arrests and expulsions in Burundi

On this September 23rd, students from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Burundi have started a strike as they protest against arrests and expulsions of their colleagues since the past few days.

Congolese students at Hope Africa University are on strike

At 10 a.m. at Hope Africa University in the north of Bujumbura city, Congolese students living on the university campus have not attended courses as usual. They stayed in their rooms. They say they are on strike. Some were exchanging stories in the dining room. Looking desperate, they are afraid they may be arrested by the police.
“Many of our colleagues have been arrested and sent back to the DRC,” says one student at Hope Africa University adding that they cannot continue to study because they are afraid they may be caught by the police at any time.

He says the police require them a visa of residence and passport. “A passport is very expensive in the DRC and not easy to find,” he adds.
Another Congolese student says he has been living in Burundi for four years. “I could present the CEPGL document and it was enough to stay in Burundi for studies,” he adds.

“We have not been informed about the ‘new’ requirements,” he says adding that they should have been given time to search for those required documents.

He calls on the government of Burundi to let them finish the academic year within two months so they can go back to their country to search for the required documents.

In Cibitoke locality of Ntahangwa commune in the north of Bujumbura city, Congolese students are reported to have been arrested and sent back to their country on Saturday last week.

“Many of them had already paid the school fees in the Burundian universities,” says a Congolese student, resident of the area who can hardly go outside the compound as he is afraid of being arrested.
They are likely to lose their money since they may not be allowed to come back to Burundi for their studies, he adds.

He says he cannot go back to school since the police continue to arrest Congolese students.

According to the association of Congolese students in Burundi, over 90 of them may have already been arrested and sent back to the DRC.
Pierre Nkurikiye, Spokesman for the Ministry of Security and Catastrophe Management says those Congolese students are accused of “illegal stay” in Burundi.

“CEPGL document is valid for three months and does not give the right to study or live in Burundi,” he says.

He adds that a passport and visa of studies or establishment are required for every foreigner to live and study in Burundi.

The ministry spokesman calls on every foreigner to stay in Burundi legally. “Burundian universities should also require those two documents for foreign students’ registration,” he adds.

The ministry of security says over 130 Congolese living illegally in Burundi have been sent back to their country since August this year.