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Burundian teenagers 'missing' after robotics competition in the U.S.


The Washington DC police is searching for six teenagers from Burundi believed to be missing after participating in the just ended international robotics competition in the United States.

The teenagers, including two females and four males between the ages of 16 and 18, were last seen at the closing ceremony of the event that hosted 163 national teams made up of students from around the world.

Their adult mentor reported them missing to the competition organisers, FIRST Global, who reported the incident to the police, local media report.

The males are 18-year-old Richard Irakoze and Aristide Irambona; 17-year-old Kevin Sabumukiza; and 16-year-old Don Ingabire. The females are 17-year-old Nice Munezero and Audrey Mwamikazi.

The police tweeted their pictures and names on Wednesday evening as missing persons and requested help from the public to find them.

Their mentor said the Burundi team was given a one-year visa to the United States, the police said.

The team, ranked 73 after the competition, was selected from a school in the Burundian capital Bujumbura.

40 African countries participated in the robotics competition. Their tasks were to build robots which will accomplish engineering tasks as a global society to solve water crisis.

Robot kits were delivered to each team in the first two weeks of March 2017.

The Gambian team – like the team from Afghanistan – were granted visa after initially being denied. They ranked 106.

African teams have a repetitive history of going missing after competitions in Europe and America.

In April this year, 15 Cameroonian footballers were detained, fined and ordered to immediately leave Russian territory after attempting to stay in Crimea after a tournament.

In 2016, two members of Guinea’s Olympic team disappeared from the Rio 2016 Athletes’ Village after the competition.

In 2014, four members of an Ethiopian track team competing at an international event in Oregon in the United States went missing in what officials believed was an attempt to seek asylum and stay in the United States.

In 2012, seven Olympic athletes from Cameroon, including 5 boxers, a swimmer and a reserve women’s goalkeeper, were also missing during the London 2012 Olympics. They were followed by three Guineans and three Ivorians, while two members of the Sudanese team and one Ethiopian sought asylum in the UK.

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