Rwanda to receive first 500 migrants evacuated from Libyan detention centres

Hundreds of African migrants will be evacuated from Libyan detention centres to Rwanda in the coming weeks. This move was planned by the African Union, the Rwandan government and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). 

The three actors made the deal, which has been described as “life-saving” by UNHCR, to protect those affected by the ongoing violence and poor humanitarian conditions in Libya

The first set of 500 people, including migrants from Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan, are expected to arrive in Rwanda in the coming weeks. Rwanda will divide them into groups of 50 and provide them shelter and security in a transit facility outside the capital, Kigali. 

The UNHCR will then help to resettle refugees in other countries. Other migrants will be returned to their home country if it is safe enough. 

“This is an expansion of the humanitarian evacuation to save lives,” said Babar Baloch, UNHCR spokesman in Geneva. “The focus is on those trapped inside Libya. We’ve seen how horrible the conditions are and we want to get them out of harm’s way.”

“Rwanda has said, ‘We’ll give them the space, we’ll give them the status, we’ll give them the residence permit. They will be legally residing in Rwanda as refugees,’” said Vincent Cochetel, the special envoy for the UNHCR for the central Mediterranean.

About 4,700 migrants are currently detained in Libya, according to the UNHCR. At least 60 migrants were killed and more than 130 injured in an airstrike on a migrant detention centre in Libya on 3 July. 

Many migrants are also trapped in degrading conditions and face violence, kidnap, rape, slavery and even murder. After footage revealed apparent migrant slave auctions in Libya in 2017, Rwanda agreed to take in 30,000 African migrants from Libya over the following years.

“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,” President Kagame said last year

The UNHCR claimed to have evacuated more than 2,900 from Libya to Niger and almost 2,000 of them have been resettled to different parts of Europe, Canada and the United States.

Rwanda is the second African country to accept migrants from Libya, after Niger.

TMP 19/09/2019

Photo Caption: African migrants trapped in a detention centre in Libya with terrible human conditions.

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