A hundred Rwandans have arrived on the island of Idjwi, in the south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, explaining that they want to « flee the vaccine » against Covid-19. The Congolese authorities are however questioning their real intentions.
A hundred Rwandans have arrived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in recent days, claiming to flee the vaccination against Covid-19, often compulsory in their country, AFP learned on January 12 from local sources. They came in small groups in canoes to the south of the island of Idjwi, located on Lake Kivu, bordering Rwanda and the DRC, where the authorities are however seeking to formally identify their profile and the reasons for their arrival.
« We have already registered at least 100 » of these people, told AFP Karongo Kalaja, administrator of the Idjwi territory. « They are arriving but until then we do not know the real reasons why they are fleeing their country, » he added.
« 101 of these people had been identified [le 11 janvier] by the chiefdom [entité administrative] of Ntambuka, ”said Idée Bakalu, honorary president of the mutual fund for Idjwi nationals living in Bukavu, capital of the Congolese province of South Kivu. Esther Muratwa, president of the civil society of Idjwi, put their number at 123.
These Rwandans say they are fleeing the vaccine against the coronavirus, but « we do not know their intentions », commented Idée Bakalu, adding that the chiefdom authorities had taken « steps to bring these people home ». According to Dunia Muhigirwa, a teacher in Idjwi, these Rwandans, among whom are women and children, say in effect « fleeing the vaccine » against Covid-19. They are being identified in the villages of Lemera and Nyereji where, according to the teacher, « the majority are currently living with host families ». « Their presence worries us since the reason for which they find themselves in Idjwi is not clear, » he added.
In Rwanda, vaccination against Covid-19 is compulsory in public transport, in bars and restaurants or even during conferences and meetings. Hundreds of thousands of Rwandan Hutus fled to eastern DRC after the 1994 Tutsi genocide. Some 40,000 of them came to the island of Idjwi, which, however, was never in plagued by violence from armed groups that have raged since in the provinces of South and North Kivu.