Malala shocked as crying Burundian girls recall rape fleeing war

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More than a dozen schoolgirls broke down in tears as one told Malala Yousafzai about the rapes they experienced and witnessed while fleeing to Rwanda in 2015 to escape fighting in Burundi.

The 19-year-old education activist was visibly moved by the sobbing Burundian refugees, prompting her father Ziauddin Yousafzai to step in and respond on her behalf.

“It’s extremely shocking,” the world’s youngest Nobel laureate, who survived a near-fatal attack by the Taliban, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Rwanda’s Mahama refugee camp on Thursday.

“It’s very tragic their stories, very moving and emotional.”

Burundi has been mired in a year-long crisis that has killed more than 450 people and forced 270,000 to flee since President Pierre Nkurunziza pursued and won a third term. Opponents said his move violated the constitution and a deal that ended a civil war in 2005.

Ange-Mireille Ndikumwenayo was on a bus heading to Rwanda in May 2015 when she saw two girls being gang raped by the roadside.

“They tried to run and asked for help but no one could help them because they had guns,” said the 20-year-old, referring to the Imbonerakure, the ruling party’s youth wing which rights groups say has attacked and tortured government opponents, charges it denies.

“It broke my heart.”