Rwanda to host hundreds of migrants trapped in Libya

Hundreds of refugees and migrants stuck in detention centres in Libya may be evacuated to Rwanda due to ongoing attacks and deadly airstrikes on the centres. Working with the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and other partners, Rwanda is preparing to receive the first batch of 500 refugees and migrants stranded in Libya.

This is part of an increasingly urgent effort funded by the EU and UN to relocate thousands of migrants from Libya following the air strike in Tripoli on the Tajoura detention centre, which killed dozens of migrants.

There is no timeline for the relocation yet. Rwanda’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of the East African Community, Ambassador Olivier Nduhungirehe, told local reporters that discussions on the planned relocation are still on-going.

He said: “We are still working with the AU and the Government of Libya on a memorandum of understanding on the Emergency Transit Mechanism related to the relocation of the 500 refugees from Libya to Rwanda.”

“We will also send a team to visit them in Libya,” Nduhungirehe added.

Rwanda also offered to take in 30,000 migrants in 2017 after the release of a CNN video apparently indicating migrants being sold as slaves in Tripoli.

At the time, Rwandese president Paul Kagame said: “The desperate situation in Libya is disturbing and we are prepared to provide support and sanctuary for our African brothers who are stuck in the immigration debacle in Libya, and who are willing to move to Rwanda.”

In the end, however, it was deemed easier to transfer the migrants to Niger instead. Niger has since received over 2,900 migrants from Libya.

Divided on how to curb the flow of irregular migrants from Libya, many EU member states are still pressuring the bloc to look for options that would enable tens of thousands of migrants and refugees stuck in Libya to evacuate to safer African nations.

The AU has also called on member states to work for and support the evacuation of those stranded in Libya.

TMP – 29/08/2019

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Photo caption: Migrants in one of Libya’s detention centres