Burundi Robotics Team Goes Missing After Competition in Washington DC

An international robotics competition, conducted in the U.S. capital, hosted six teens from Burundi— an East African Nation. They were selected from the schools in Bujumbura, the capital of the country. But on Tuesday, as the FIRST Global challenge was about to wind up, the chaperone found that one of the team was missing.

FIRST Global President Joe Sestak was the first person to inform the police about the news. These kids had been staying in the dorms at Trinity Washington University and had been expected to leave on Thursday together for Burundi. When the organizers of the international robotics competition probed the matter, they came to the conclusion that the action of the kids was “self-initiated.”

According to the FIRST Global statement

“There were indications that the students’ absence may have been self-initiated, including leaving all their keys in their mentor/chaperone’s bag and the removal of students’ clothes from their rooms,”

The first counselor at the Burundian embassy, Benjamin Manirakiza, told that the chaperone first intimated the officials about the presence of the kids in Washington, and they were not even aware of the arrival of the teens themselves.

In addition to that, on Thursday, Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Aquita Brown said that the police had seen the two of the six kids, i.e. 16 years old Don Ingabire, and 17 years old Audrey Mwamikazi, crossing Canada. The police thinks they haven’t been kidnapped, and instead, they have self-initiated the vanishing.

The rest of the kids include 17 years old Kevin Sabumukiza and Nice Munezero, and 18 years old Richard Irakoze and Aristide Irambona.

The Police reported that the kids were traveling for one year on the U.S. visas. The police even tried to contact the uncle of one of the lost kid, but they found no clue.

Canesius Bindaba, the team’s coach, told Washington Post that he came across the rumors that kids are planning to reside in the U.S. He added:

“I just tried to build some kind of trust, hoping they were just rumors. I feel cheated and disappointed by those who planned this behind my back.”


The teens also applied for asylum from Burundi. Oscar Niyiragira, chairman of the United Burundian-American Community Association Inc.,’70s believes that the kids’ departure from Burundi was mainly due to economic instability, rather than the political violence. Niyiragira also backed this argument by saying that the political situation in Burundi is not as bad as it was in the ’70s and the ’90s.

The political conditions in Burundi are horrendous. More than 500 people have been killed in Burundi, according the research by United Nations. The Human Right Watch reported that the members of a pro-government youth militia had

“brutally killed, tortured, and severely beaten scores of people across the country in recent months.”

Other incidents of torture include a knife driven into the eyes of one victim and beating another boy to death. For this reason, hundreds and thousands of people have migrated from the country. The Burundian government never accepts such allegations and justifies this by saying that this is the conspiracy against our government and that all the information collected by regime’s opponents is false.

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