Two of the Six Burundi Teens Missing from D.C. Tech Competition Found In Canada

Whereabouts of Other Four Not Confirmed, but Thought to be Safe

by: Lenore T. Adkins Special to the AFRO
/ (Washington Metropolitan Police Department via AP) /
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Two members of a Burundi robotics team who went missing July 20 after an international competition in Washington, D.C. have been found safe in Canada, D.C. police told The Washington Post.

The two teenagers, Audrey Mwamikazi, 17, and Don Ingabire, 16, went to Canada on their own and there was no evidence of foul play, police said. Authorities did not release any other information about them, including their method of border crossing or how they were located, Reuters reported.

Canada’s Border Services Agency could not confirm or deny that the two crossed into Canada, according to Reuters.

This combination of photos provided by the Washington Metropolitan Police Department shows six Burundi teenagers who were reported missing on July 19, 2017, after participating in an international robotics competition in Washington. The two girls and four boys ranging in age from 16 to 18 are, from top left, Richard Irakoze, Kevin Sabumukiza, Nice Munezero, and from bottom left, Aristide Irambona, Don Ingabire, and Audrey Mwamikazi. (Washington Metropolitan Police Department via AP)

Meanwhile, the pair’s four teammates, including two 17-year-old girls and two boys aged 17 and 18, are also thought to be safe, with police declining to release further information, according to the Post.

The teenagers originally arrived in the United States on one-year visas to compete in the FIRST Global Challenge, which encourages youth involvement in math and science careers. The international competition featured more than 150 nations.

The competition drew international attention this week after President Donald J. Trump interceded to help a team of six girls from Afghanistan who had been denied visas to participate.

The Burundi team was last seen a half hour before the competition ended on July 18. FIRST Global President Joe Sestak phoned police after an adult mentor assigned to the teenagers couldn’t find them in their dormitories at Trinity Washington University, Reuters reported.

Police issued photographs of the missing teenagers the following day. Not only were their clothes missing, but their dorm keys were also discovered in their mentor’s bag.

Burundi has faced civil unrest and violence since 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza was elected to a third term there. That reelection ignited large protests and an attempted coup last year, PBS reported. The ongoing fighting killed at least 700 people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, Reuters reported.

It also prompted the State Department to issue a travel warning in June, alerting U.S. citizens to “sporadic violence,” including gunfire and attacks from armed groups.

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