The West courtiers issue travel advisory on many occasions in cases of war, political uncertainty, terrorist attacks among others. However, for Rwanda, their President’s decision has led to the issuance of the travel advisory. President Paul Kagame issued an order to close Rwanda’s borders to Uganda and Burundi after disputes between him and his neighbors. Presidents Kagame accuses his counterpart Museveni of harboring dissidents from Rwanda, but the Kampala administration vehemently denied Kagame’s accusation. However, Kagame issued an order to close its borders together with bar its citizens from crossing the border to Uganda or Burundi.
Travel Advisory Issued
Besides just affecting the lives of Rwandans, President Kagame’s decision has led to France issuing a travel advisory to its citizen’s visiting Rwanda. In their statement, France is warning its citizens against traveling to key areas that it deems unsafe. The areas are famed gorillas park Volcanoes National Park the latter is Rwanda’s number one tourist attraction spot, border point with Burundi that is Nyungwe Forest and lastly its border point with Uganda. Besides the above, the government also gave an order requiring traders along its border with Uganda to go back home. According to the French government, its citizens are urged to exercise caution when visiting the above areas because of the tension between Kigali and its neighbors. On the border points with Burundi, the French government advised its citizens against trekking through Nyungwe Forest to cross to Nyamagabe through National Road 6 whether to or from.
On the other hand, concerning Volcanoes National Park, the French government says there is a potential of an incident so its citizens shouldn’t visit the park. While France was the first country to issue a travel advisory against Rwanda, Canada followed suit and issued its travel advisory. On its side, the Canadian government is urging its citizens to exercise a high degree of caution while in Rwanda. In addition to that, Canada is asking its citizens already in the country to avoid any non-essential travel and if they see fit should travel out of the country immediately if it’s still safe. For those who had plans to go to Rwanda, the government is urging them not to precede with their travel arrangements. While although the above are just two countries, it’s likely more embassies will issue travel advisories to their citizens.
Rwanda on the Losing End
For Kagame, closing borders might have seemed like the perfect solution to sort out the tension between Kigali and Kampala. However, he might have been ill-advised by his advisors. Although he might not feel the pinch of his decision, Rwandans are suffering. After the closure of the border’s no goods and food has crossed to the landlocked country leading to prices for essential commodities soaring up. Price for soap, for instance, shot up from 1,000 francs before the closure to now retailing at 4,000 francs. Rwanda depends on goods and foods coming from Uganda and with the country having high levels of poverty, many people are suffering in the villages due to the border closure. Since the borders are closed, security was beefed up at the crossing points. However, people are finding ways to sneak in and out of Rwanda with the latter causing the death of one person. Reports have emerged that a 37-year-old woman named Elizabeth Mukarugwiza died as she tried to run away from Rwandan forces manning the Ugandan border point at Cyanika border. Per the reports, she collapsed and died while attempting to cross the border to buy food.
While the people suffering might find other solutions to their problems, Rwanda stands to lose millions of dollars from its tourist sector. Tourism is the number one revenue generating source for the Rwanda economy, and with the advisories coming up, its effects will be huge. Furthermore, its deal with Arsenal football club will be a waste if tourists can’t travel to Rwanda. Rwanda has a sponsorship deal with Arsenal worth 39 million US dollars. The team wears visit Rwanda logo on their sleeves.
Moreover, for a country which has an annual income of US$702 per head, poverty levels are high meaning closing borders and preventing traders from generating the US$702 is a huge mistake. Furthermore, Rwanda depends heavily on donors from outside to fund its coffers to enable the government to remain afloat. Moreover, according to experts, Rwanda relays on outside donors to fund 33% of its annual budget. In short, it’s ill-advised to start conflicts with your neighbors when you highly depend on donor funds to run your government. Furthermore, being a landlocked country makes things even harder for Rwanda. A steady flow of business brings about income to the people who struggle to make ends meet and generate the US$702.