Norway explains resettlement of African refugees from Rwanda

Kallmyr (C) during the visit of the Gashora Emergence Transit Mechanism on January 20, 2020. Craish Bahizi.

The visiting Norwegian Minister for Justice and Migration, Joran Kallymr, has shed light on his country’s plan to resettle 600 African refugees from Rwanda, which is acting as an emergence transit for hundreds as efforts continue to evacuate them from dire conditions in Libya.

Kallymr on Monday visited the Gashora Emergence Transit Mechanism (EMTC) where 299 asylum seekers, mainly from the Horn of Africa countries, are temporarily hosted.


His visit follows his country’s announcement that it will provide resettlement slots for 600 of the African refugees from Rwanda.


In an interview, Kallymr told journalists that details about who will go to Norway have not yet been completed, though he hinted on the fact that focus will be on relocating whole families.


“We are focusing on receiving whole families. I have had a good discussion with the UNHCR on how we are going to manage that,” he said.

Taking whole families, according to Kallymr, will help avoid stress on the Norwegian court system caused by situations where close relatives of the refugees may later seek reunion with them while already settled in the European country.

He said that there will be a screening done by both UNHCR and the Norwegian government on the asylum seekers before they can be accepted into the European country, a move partly aimed at avoiding economic immigrants.

“First, we will get recommendations from the UNHCR, but then we will also screen them.

“There are about 40,000 migrants in Libya and all of them want to come to Europe. There is no chance that everybody is going to come, because we are only processing resettlement for those who are real refugees, who cannot return to their countries of origin because they will be illegally prosecuted and inhumanely treated.”

He said Norway’s move to resettle the refugees aims at sharing the burden with Rwanda, and called upon other European nations to follow in Norway’s footsteps.

He commended Rwanda’s initiative to receive the evacuees, praising the country for “trying to solve African problems on African soil.”

Kallymr, however, warned Africans against trying to go to Europe by daring to illegally cross the Mediterranean,

“We have to send a message; don’t try to come to Europe on your own. Do it through the UNHCR because then they will sort out who is the most vulnerable, who is in need of protection,” he said.

“It is not very good that so many people try to cross the Mediterranean, because there are so many devastating stories about people who are getting abused and killed.”

Elise Villechalane, the External Relations Officer at UNHCR Rwanda, told journalists that they expect another evacuation flight of asylum seekers from Libya to Rwanda next month.

So far, three evacuation flights have transferred 306 people from Libya to Rwanda, seven of whom have departed for Sweden.

France and Canada are other countries that have pledged to welcome African refugees from Rwanda, and, according to Villechalane, the resettlement countries accept refugees on individual basis. 

She elaborated other options, including returning them to their countries of origin in case it is established that they will be safe back home, or having them reintegrated into Rwandan communities.

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