120 more refugees expected in Rwanda in November

Some of the refugees at Gashora Transit Centre play football yesterday. Emmanuel Kwizera.

At least 120 refugees are expected to be evacuated to Rwanda in November from Libya where they are currently exposed to violence, sexual abuse and torture in detention centres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has said.

Rwanda is currently hosting 189 African refugees and asylum-seekers. The group was evacuated from Libya where thousands of others are still languishing in  gross human rights abuses in detention centres.

They found themselves in these centres after a failed bid to across the Mediterranean Sea to European countries, where they hoped to secure a better life.

Those who are evacuated to Rwanda are hosted at Gashora Transit Centre in Bugesera District, Eastern Province.

Most of them are from Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan, and the rest are from Ethiopia.

The first group of 66 refugees arrived in Rwanda in September, while the second group of 123 arrived in the country in early October as part of the commitment Rwanda made to contribute to saving the struggling migrants in the North African country.

On Wednesday, a UNHCR official told the media during the tour of the camp where the refugees are hosted that the organization was planning to evacuate “another group of 120 refugees in November” to Rwanda.

Elise Villechalane, the Spokesperson of UNCHR Rwanda, told the media that that’s the target they had given themselves.

A group of diplomats representing African countries at the African Union (AU) together with members of the UNHCR Regional Office on Wednesday visited the camp in Bugesera where they interacted with refugees who have so far been evacuated.

They are in Kigali to attend the continental consultative meeting on humanitarian assistance in Africa.

Clementine Awu Nkwete Salami, the UNHCR Regional Director for the Eastern and Great Lakes Region, commended Rwanda for accepting “to provide these people with a sanctuary where there is peace and security.”

“I must say I’m quite happy to see that we have been able to put in place the structures that can provide immediate relief for the individuals who are facing very hallowing situations in Libya,” she said.

Salami said the UNHCR was exploring options of resettlement to third party countries, repatriation as well as working with Rwanda to facilitate those who want to stay in the country. 

She also confirmed that there are other European countries that have expressed interest to host the refugees.

Some governments have come forward as part of responsibility sharing to offer the place to be resettled in other countries. 

“Sweden is one of those countries that have has provided us with opportunities, and other Scandinavian countries,” she noted.

Rwanda committed in 2017 to host 500 African refugees who are stranded in Libya after their failed bid to reach Europe.

That commitment materialized a few weeks after the African Union entered agreement for an emergency Transit mechanism. 

After the visit, Patrick Kapuwa who represented the AU Commissioner, said that AU was going to advocate so that other countries host the refugees.

“As the AU, what we’ve seen here made us go back to appeal to other African states to copy what Rwanda has done and replicate it,” he said.

Olivier Kayumba, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Emergency Management said Rwanda will continue to play its role and that they were hoping other countries would join forces to save the migrants from the situation in Libya.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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