Burundian refugees turn to prostitution in Rwanda

Posted By: IANS
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Kigali (Rwanda), May 30: Prostitution has spread among Burundian refugees in the neighbouring country of Rwanda, as life in the refugee camps is not easy for them, Rwandan authorities have revealed.

Christella, a girl who once lived in the Mahama refugee camps in the south-eastern region, said she thought she could "continue studies in a normal life", but was forced to work as a prostitute.


"Someone came to me in the camp and he promised to find me a job. When we arrived in Kigali, I thought I was coming to get a decent employment in the city and give my family a chance of a better life," Xinhua quoted her as saying.

Fortunately, Christella was later saved by a relative living in Rwanda.

She said she hopes to raise awareness about the life of young Burundian girls on the streets of the capital, Kigali.

Several girls recently alleged that they were "sexually abused by aid workers" in refugee camps and forced into prostitution, the government said.

Police investigations, however, suggest that Burundian girls refugees turn to prostitution, especially in urban areas near Kigali, "rather than suffer sexual abuse".

Usually it is the poor living condition in the camps that force them to flee.

"These girls in refugee camps are not free to decide for themselves and say no, and exploitation is slowly feeding on poverty," said Seraphine Mukantabana, Rwanda's minister of disaster management and refugees affairs, on Friday.

Official figures show more than 28,000 Burundians have escaped into Rwanda, amid unrest sparked by the Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term in the June elections.\


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