Canada suspends deportations to strife-torn Burundi

Policemen patrol the Musaga neighborhood of Burundi's capital city, Bujumbura, in May 2015; Canada said on December 2 it is no longer deporting Burundi nationals lacking proper papers, lest they face violence at home amid continuing political unrest (AFP Photo/Carl de Souza)

Ottawa (AFP) - The Canadian government on Wednesday suspended the deportations of Burundi nationals lacking proper papers, citing the violence and political instability shaking the central African country.

The administrative reprieve was announced by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). It did not say how many Burundians would be affected.

The agency specified, however, that any foreigners subject to expulsion because of criminality, or international or human rights violations, would "not benefit from this stay of removal."

The order will not affect anyone wishing to travel voluntarily to Burundi, the agency said, adding that it would re-evaluate its deferral policy once conditions improve in the country.

Canada has extended similar reprieves to nationals from several other troubled countries or regions, including Somalia, Syria, the Gaza Strip, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Libya, Nepal and Yemen.

Since April, Burundi has faced a grave political crisis that, by UN estimate, has claimed at least 240 lives and prompted 200,000 to flee the country.

Foreign officials fear further deterioration in the ethnically divided nation. Massacres in neighboring Rwanda in 1994 claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

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