Teens from Burundi go missing after participating in robotics competition in DC

Burundi says it is confident in U.S. police to find missing robotics team

Two of the Six Burundi Teens Missing from DC Tech Competition Found In Canada

Organizers of the competition the disappearance of the teens may have been "self-initiated".

Two members of a Burundi robotics team who went missing July 20 after an worldwide competition in Washington, D.C. have been found safe in Canada, D.C. police told The Washington Post. It had been in the national spotlight already, thanks to a team of girls from Afghanistan who were allowed to attend after President Donald Trump intervened on their behalf.

Police posted photographs of the six - four young males and two females - who participated in the First Global Challenge robotics meet - on Twitter.

The Burundian Embassy in Washington said that neither did it know about the robot contest nor the participation of a Burundian team.

But officials from Canada's Border Services Agency, the immigration and refugee ministry, the Burundian embassy in Ottawa, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection all said they had no information on the teens' whereabouts.

"Security of the students is of paramount importance to FIRST Global", organizers said, noting that they ensure students get to their dormitories after the competition by providing safe transportation to students staying at Trinity Washington University.

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.

"I just tried to build some kind of trust, hoping they were just rumours", he said.

Hassan Ahmad, an immigration lawyer in northern Virginia not involved in the situation, said that if the teens make an asylum application, then Immigration and Customs Enforcement could seek to detain the teens pending removal proceedings.

The teens entered the country on visas that were valid for one year.

ABC News reports an Afghan official said the USA initially feared the girls wouldn't go home.

First Global said it called police after learning that "the adult mentor of Team Burundi was unable to find the group of six students of the team". The team's slogan in Kirundi is "Ugushaka Nugushobora", which translates roughly to "where there is a will, there is a way".

The other missing Burundian teenagers were Nice Munezero, 17; Kevin Sabumukiza, 17; Richard Irakoze, 18; and Aristide Irambona, 18.

However, the teens would be eligible to seek bond and could stay in the country while they await their hearing - which can take years.

They believe they will have a better chance of asylum in Canada which has a more welcoming stance on refugees than America, he said. If ICE declines to seek detention, it still can take several years before a formal interview to determine whether an applicant is eligible for asylum.

He called the teens' departure disappointing and said economic impoverishment, rather than political persecution, drives most decisions to seek asylum from Burundi.

The missing teen's home country, Burundi, has undergone violent political unrest since 2015.

More than 500 people have been killed in Burundi, an East African nation of about 10 million people, according to the United Nations. As the world reports them missing, do they care?

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