A religious community from Burundi living in a UN refugee transit camp is refusing to move to another camp because it objects to biometric registration.
A spokesman for the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) says emergency assistance to the group – food, water and sanitation – will be « phase out by the end of February », because it cannot provide support without being supplied biometric data – which includes fingerprints.
The religious group is led by charismatic leader known as Euzebie Ngendakumana – a woman in her late 30s who says she has regular visions of the Virgin Mary.
One member of the group, Dionyse Nyandwi, told BBC Great Lakes what they had said to UN’s refugee agency when refusing biometric registration:
[Back] in 2000, the Virgin Mary warned that the time would come when people would be asked to use biometric registration. When it started, we remembered what [she] had said. She told us to check it up in the Bible. »
Mr Nyandwi said the section of the Bible in question is the Book of Revelation, chapter 13, verse 16 which refers to « the mark of the beast »:
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. »
The religious group, who moved to the Democratic Republic of Congo from Burundi, is currently living in a UN transit camp in South Kivu after protests they held last year were met with deadly violence from Congolese security forces.
At least 37 Burundian migrants were killed and another 117 were injured in the incident when they picketed a prison where their compatriots were being held pending deportation.
More than 400,000 people have fled Burundi since 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term, sparking widespread violence.
Some 40,000 are living in the DRC, the UN Refugee Agency said last year.