Seven Rwandan nationals seek asylum in Uganda. Many people in Rwanda are starving due to lack of food because of the border closure.


Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) has handed over seven Rwandan asylum seekers to United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The asylum seekers are Eugine Mukeshimana, Sudi Uwiyesenga and their children, Joana Uwase Irakoza, Fred Kwibuka Mugisha and a two-year-old child. The other asylum seekers are Enock Kwizera and Sumayi Nkukiyimana

Ms Christine Ayebazibwe, the URCS Kabale Branch Manager, says the Rwandan nationals reported to their offices in Mwanjari Ward, Kabale Municipality on April 3.

She says they asked URCS to find them a place they could stay because they were running away from the “unbearable conditions” in Rwanda.

Ms Ayebazibwe said that Mukeshimana, who was heavily pregnant was taken to Kabale Regional Referral Hospital at the weekend, where she delivered a baby girl.

She said that she contacted UNHCR officials who offered to transport the asylum seekers to Nakivaale Refugee Camp in Isingiro District.

Kwizera, one of the asylum seekers said life for many people in Rwanda has drastically worsened since President Paul Kagame ordered the closure of Rwanda’s borders with Uganda.

According to Kwizera, they were forced to flee to Uganda through the porous border due to hunger. He said that many people in Rwanda are starving due to lack of food because of the border closure.

Kwizera said that even the available food in Rwanda is too costly for ordinary citizens.

Uweyesenga, another asylum seeker, said he decided to cross to Uganda after realising that the tension between the two neighbouring countries could result into a serious war.

Uweyesenga says that he prefers staying in a refugee camp instead of waiting to witness bloodshed.

He said more people are ready to escape from Rwanda to Uganda should the current situation persist.

Mr Brian Ampeire, the Kabale District Police Commander, said the security team in the district decided to take the asylum seekers to the refugee camp.

Rwanda closed its borders with Uganda on February 27, to allegedly expedite construction works at Gatuna border.

Rwanda advised truck drivers destined to Rwanda to use Kagitumba border via Mirama Hills border crossing. Rwanda also advised its citizens against travelling to Uganda, saying it can’t guarantee their safety.

Rwandan officials, including President Kagame accused Uganda of abducting its citizens and locking them up in ungazetted areas.

The country also accused Uganda of hosting sponsoring and facilitating dissidents especially members of Rwanda National Congress and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, who they say have declared war on Rwanda.

Many Rwandan citizens especially those living near the border are struggling to find food because of the border closure since they are restricted from crossing to Uganda.

On March 28, 37-year-old Elizabeth Mukarugwiza, a resident of Kinigi village in Nyamirima parish in Musanza Sub County in Musanza District in Rwanda died moments after crossing to Uganda where she had come to get food.

She had used the porous border section together with other Rwandan nationals to stealthily cross to Uganda to get food for their starving families.

Mukarugwiza collapsed and died moments after making it to Uganda, according to Red Cross volunteers at Kyanika border post.