Burundian robotics team goes missing in Washington


A high school robotics team from Burundi has gone missing in the United States during an international robotics competition.

Washington police say the group was reported missing on Wednesday, confirming there is “no indication of foul play” in any of the disappearances. Authorities say two of the teens were last seen crossing the border into Canada; the whereabouts of the other four remain unknown.


Teenagers disappear

The six teens – aged between 16 and 18 – disappeared on the final day of the competition on Tuesday. As the international event was coming to a close, the team’s chaperone was unable to locate the members. They were reported missing the next day and efforts to find the group were unsuccessful.

The group of teens – four males and two females – include Richard Irakoze, 18, Kevin Sabumukiza, 17, Nice Munezero, 17, and Aristide Irambona, 18 – whose whereabouts are unknown. Two of the teens – 16-year-old Don Ingabire and 17-year-old Audrey Mwamikazi – were seen leaving the US and heading into Canada, according to police.

As of Thursday, there is no new information on the missing teens. Authorities confirm there is no evidence of abduction or criminal activity, suggesting the teens may have planned their disappearance.


No comment from immigration authorities

The team’s coach, Canesius Bindaba, told The Washington Post that he had heard rumours the teens might be planning to stay in the US.

“I just tried to build some kind of trust, hoping they were just rumours,” he told the publication.

According to police reports, the group was travelling on tourist visas valid for one year. Oscar Niyiragira, chairman of the United Burundian-American Community Association Inc, says many believe there’s a better chance of being granted asylum in Canada than in the US.

Immigration agencies in Canada and the US both say they’re unable to reveal whether specific individuals seek asylum.


Featured image: First.global

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.