News Worms
News Worms

6 teenagers from African robotics team missing after competition in DC

6 teenagers from African robotics team missing after competition in DC

Two teen on Burundi's national robotics team were last seen crossing the US border into Canada, this city's police department confirmed Thursday.

The competition's webpage about Team Burundi shows the six team members posing with a flag and says team members were selected from schools in Bujumbura, the capital city.

FIRST Global issued a statement saying its president, Joe Sestak, notified police the youths were missing after the adult mentor for Team Burundi discovered they were missing Tuesday night.

Tuesday marked the third and last day of the competition.

The Metropolitan Police provided NPR with six almost identical police reports, which all state that Bindaba accompanied the teen to the robotics competition at Washington's DAR Constitution Hall.

The robotics competition for youth from around the world, organized by the nonprofit First Global, had gained worldwide attention after invited participants struggled to get visas.

In a statement given to FOX 5, the competition's host said, "Security of the students is of paramount importance to FIRST Global".

On Thursday (20 July), police said that 17-year-old Audrey Mwamikazi and 16-year-old Don Ingabire were seen crossing the border from the USA into Canada. The tournament received considerable media attention when a team of six girls from Afghanistan were twice denied the US visas needed to attend. In their reports, D.C. Police say the teens all have one-year visas.

The robotics competition previously attracted global headlines when Afghanistan's team of six teen girls were denied visas twice. They were only allowed to travel to Washington and enter the contest after a personal intervention from President Donald Trump. Burundi Embassy officials in Washington also had no other information though they confirmed they were aware of the situation, according to the Washington Post.

The team mentor told police that he could not locate the team members shortly after the competition and does not know where they went, reports CBS News.

Canadian authorities could not confirm the entry of the two Burundian teens, telling ABC News, "It is not a practice of the Canada Border Services Agency to confirm and/or deny the entry of any one person to Canada".

Clarke added that Burundi - an East African nation of about 10 million people who speak the local Kirundi language and French - is on a list of countries at the Refugee Protection Division for expedited processing. The search is ongoing for the other members of the team.

Burnundi residents face widespread human rights abuses, including murder, rape and torture by political groups, according to Human Rights Watch.


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