Rwanda: Over 70 Refugees Ready to Be Evacuated From Libya

(file photo).
19 September 2019

The Rwandan government has approved a list of 75 refugees and asylum-seekers and they will soon be airlifted to Rwanda from Libya, it has emerged.

They are part of the initial batch of 500 refugees expected to be evacuated from Libya to Rwanda in the near future as part of a framework backed by the African Union and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The Rwandan government earlier this month signed an agreement with the AU Commission and UNHCR committing to host 500 African refugees stranded in the North African country.

The agreement was a follow up to a commitment by the Government in 2017 to host African refugees trapped in Libya, as European nations stepped up migrant controls.

Sources at the Ministry in charge of Emergence Management (MINEMA) told The New Times Thursday that Rwanda had received and approved the list of the initial group of 75 refugees awaiting evacuation to Rwanda and they were expected to arrive anytime soon.

According to a reliable source at MINEMA, the refugees are awaiting exit visas and transportation, which are being taken care of by UNHCR.

On arrival, the refugees will be hosted at an emergency transit mechanism, Gashora Reception Centre, located in Bugesera District, outside the City of Kigali. The centre has lately been receiving a facelift ahead of the imminent arrival of the first group of evacuees.

The facility is managed by MINEMA in coordination with UNHCR, which will fund its operations.

The evacuation will be done on voluntary basis.

Persons eligible to benefit from the centre include refugees recognised by UNHCR Libya, asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR Libya, children and youth at risk registered as refugees, as well as spouses and children of asylum-seekers and refugees.

Under the framework signed last week between Rwanda, African Union and the UNHCR, the Government is expected to provide protection to the refugees, asylum-seekers, and other evacuees identified as particularly vulnerable and at-risk, who are currently being held in detention centres in Libya.

Rwanda first made the commitment to host refugees from Libya in 2017 following damning revelations that tens of thousands of people from across Africa were not only stranded in the northern African country after their failed bid to reach Europe but many of them were being subjected to slavery.

Media reports indicated that the refugees were openly being sold in modern-day slave markets in Libya.

The United Nations estimates that almost 5,000 refugees are in detention in Libya, about 70 per cent of whom are refugees and asylum-seekers, with most of them having been subjected to different forms of abuse.

Thousands of migrants have died over the past few years trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea en route to European countries in hope for better lives.

Human rights groups have documented cases of rape, torture and other crimes in Libyan detention facilities, some of which are run by militia groups.

Rwanda is already home to nearly 150,000 refugees mainly from DR Congo and Burundi. The refugees mostly live in six camps spread across the country, but there are others who live in urban centres in most City of Kigali and Huye District.

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