Burundi Announces Air Travel with Rwanda Remains Open, Despite Land Border Closure

The Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister, Vincent Biruta and his counterpart Albert Shingiro of Burundi

The Government of Burundi has declared that air routes between Burundi and Rwanda remain open and have not been closed. Although the land borders have been shut for Burundians in Rwanda, they are allowed to return to Burundi.

During a session on Friday, the Burundian National Assembly received Foreign Minister Albert Shingiro to discuss various issues in foreign relations between Burundi and other countries. One of the focal points was Burundi’s decision to close land borders with Rwanda.

As monitored on the National Assembly’s website, the first questions raised by the representatives concerned the sudden closure of the borders. They queried Minister Shingiro about the haste in shutting down the borders when no significant issues were apparent.

Minister Shingiro was also questioned about why the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has not closed its borders with Rwanda despite ongoing issues. In his response, he likened the relationship between Burundi and Rwanda to changing weather patterns, with periods of intense rainfall and scorching sun.

He emphasized that each country has the sovereignty to manage its foreign relations, which is why Burundi decided to close its borders while the DRC did not.

Regarding the situation of Burundians in Rwanda after the border closure, the assembly members asked how they would be assisted in returning home. Minister Shingiro assured that no one is prevented from returning to their home country, and those wishing to return will not be turned away.

He also announced that air travel has not been suspended and will continue as usual.

The announcement to close the land borders between Burundi and Rwanda was made on January 11, 2024, by the Minister of Security, citing poor diplomatic relations rooted in Rwanda’s harboring of individuals destabilizing Burundi’s security.

Additionally, Voice of America reports that prior to the complete closure of the land borders, 35 Rwandans were escorted to the border and handed over to Rwanda, allegedly apprehended across the border.

It’s noteworthy that Burundi had reopened its borders in September 2022, following their closure since 2015.