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Faith Nyasuguta 

In recent days, some 100 Rwandans have arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) claiming to be fleeing the Covid-19 vaccination, which has been mandatory in their nation.

Authorities disclosed that the Rwandans came in small groups by canoe to the south of the island of Idjwi, located on Lake Kivu, which borders Rwanda and the DRC, where the officials are nevertheless trying to formally identify their profile and the reasons for their arrival.

Karongo Kalaja, the administrator of Idjwi territory says, “We have already registered at least 100 of these people. They are arriving but so far we don’t know why they are fleeing their country.”

“101 of these people were counted on Tuesday by the chiefdom (administrative entity) of Ntambuka,” Idée Bakalu, a Congolese official said.

However, Esther Muratwa the president of the civil society of Idjwi, put their number at 123.

Covid vaccination is mandatory in Rwanda /Courtesy/

According to Idée Bakalu, the Rwandans say they are “fleeing the coronavirus vaccine “, but “we don’t know what their intentions are”, adding that the chiefdom authorities had taken “steps to bring these people home”.

A teacher in Idjwi, Dunia Muhigirwa, reveals that the Rwandans, including women and children, say they are ” fleeing the vaccine ” against Covid-19. 

Adding, he said they are being identified in the villages of Lemera and Nyereji where, according to the teacher, “the majority are living for the moment with host families”.

“Their presence worries us as it is not clear why they are in Idjwi.”

For those in Rwanda, vaccination against Covid-19 is compulsory on public transport, in bars and restaurants, and at conferences and meetings.

After the 1994 genocide, hundreds of thousands of Rwandan Hutus fled to eastern DRC. Some 40,000 of them came to the island of Idjwi, but it has never been plagued by the violence of armed groups that have since plagued the provinces of South and North Kivu.

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Faith Nyasuguta