Burundian global campaigner Marguerite Barankitse has cancelled the scholarships of over 100 Burundian refugee students that were funded through her organisation Maison Shalom.
The affected students received email from Maison Shalom informing them that their scholarships had been cancelled, according to SOS Media Burundi, a news platform run by Burundian exiled journalists.
Barankitse founded Maison Shalom nearly three decades ago in Burundi to support orphans and other needy groups. Her work became more internationally known after 2015 when tens of thousands fled Burundi following the failed coup there and the ensuing violence.
In Rwanda, Maison Shalom engaged to fund education for refugee students at different levels including private universities in Rwanda.
The email sent by the NGO to the students ending the education support, didn’t specify the exact reason why it had taken the decision. However, SOS Media Burundi reports that 10 among the affected students were among the first to register to repatriate back home.
One of these 10, identified as Céleus Hatungimana, earlier this year began online petition demanding to go home. Hatungimana in media interviews openly accused Maison Shalom founder Barankitse of doing everything in her power to block refugees from repatriating.
The students whose scholarships have been ended by Maison Shalom were in final years of university.
“We wish you the best in your search for funding to continue your studies,” reads in part the email from Maison Shalom director Richard Nijimbere, to the students.
At the beginning of every academic year, the students have been signing commitment agreements with Shalom. With it came tuition and upkeep throughout the year of school.
Since 2015, the NGO says it has supported more than 400 Burundian students through university.