Six African Teens from Robotics Competition Reported Missing in DC

Six African Teens from Robotics Competition Reported Missing in DC

DIASPORA-After being reported missing, two teens from Burundi's national robotics team were seen crossing the border into Canada, reports the Associated Press.

The four boys and two girls disappeared shortly after the competition.

FIRST Global, a US -based non-profit that organized the competition, said it had notified police about the missing competitors.

They were reportedly last seen on Tuesday, the final day of the competition.

FIRST Global President Joe Sestak, a former Admiral and congressman who also served in President Bill Clinton's administration, initially called police and "proper follow on reports have been submitted to the police who are investigating the case", the organization said.

"Security of the students is of paramount importance to FIRST global", FIRST Global said in a statement.

Police have said they do not believe foul play was involved in the youths' disappearance.

The other robotics members still missing are Richard Irakoze, 18; Kevin Sabumukiza, 17; Nice Munezero, 17; and Aristide Irambona, 18. A squad of girls from Afghanistan drew the most attention after they were twice rejected for USA visas and President Donald Trump intervened so they could come to America.

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The Burundi teens, all of whom have one-year visas, were last seen Tuesday night after the competition concluded, police said.

The east African nation of Burundi has been shaken by violence since April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza chose to circumvent the constitutional two-term limit and run for another term.

Teams of teenage students from more than 150 countries took part in the competition, which was created to encourage careers in math and technology. Competition organisers became aware of the missing teens when the team's mentor could not locate them.

The Afghan girls were eventually allowed to travel to the USA on a ten-day "parole" permit, after President Donald Trump personally interceded with the State Department, according to the White House.

The Burundi Embassy in Washington does not know where the teens are, and had no further information on the two allegedly spotted heading to Canada, according to one official.

A member of the Burundi-American community says he has little doubt the teens are seeking asylum, though he emphasized he had no direct knowledge of the situation.

The Canadian government has faced pressure to repeal the agreement, with many arguing it is the reason asylum-seekers have crossed the border on foot, to bypass border points so they could make their refugee claims once already in the country. According to the United Nations, over 300,000 people fled the country since 2014 due to violent gangs from Congo and disappearances and killings allegedly committed by Burundian security forces.

The teenagers from the small East African country traveled to Washington, D.C., to compete in First Global's contest earlier this week, where teams from around the world entered machines they had built.

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