Rwanda police on Monday said they rescued 12 Burundians who were being trafficked to The Gulf.
The 11 women and one man, majority of whom are in their 30s, said that they had been promised good jobs in the Arab countries.
“We were told that we will be given domestic jobs in either in Qatar, Saudi Arabia or Oman,” one of the alleged victims said.
According to the police, immigration officials got suspicious when they noticed a large group travelling together as they entered the country at the Akanyaru Rwanda-Burundi border crossing.
“A Burundian national brought them and when they reached the Akanyaru border, they were to be received by two Kenyans, a man and a woman, on the Rwandan side,” deputy police spokesperson Lynder Nkuranga said.
The three suspected traffickers, who are said to have planned to use Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya as transit routes, were all arrested.
The Burundian suspect, the police say, denied any link to the victims.
Rwanda has been stepping up efforts to curb trafficking in persons through its territory.
Last year, the police arrested a Kenyan on charges of human trafficking.
“We will not allow that Rwanda to become a transit country for human trafficking and we want to send a message to anybody thinking of trafficking people that we are very serious about this,” Ms Nkuranga said.
The numbers of alleged Burundian victims of trafficking have increased since last year.
A 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report by the US Department of State showed that Burundi was a source country in the region, especially for women and children, exploited sexually and through forced labour, which it linked to the “complex political, economic, and security crisis” that engulfed the country since 2015.
Rwanda says it will repatriate the 12 Burundians rescued while the suspects will be put on trial.