Over 120 more refugees arrive in Rwanda from Libya

At around 11:30 pm, a plane carrying 123 refugees from Libya touched down at the Kigali International Airport.

The asylum seekeers, mostly youth, were accompanied by members of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and were welcomed by Rwandan and UN officials.


There were three minors, 24 female and the rest were male. Their average age is between 14 and 20, according to officials.



They first passed through immigration clearance, an exercise that took a little over an hour, before they embarked on three buses heading to Gashora Transit Centre in Bugesera.

"One must see this as a life-saving gesture," Barbara Bentum-Williams Dotse, the UNHCR Deputy Country Representative said upon welcoming the group.

The asylum seekers from different African countries are some of the victims of forced detention in Libya where there are thousands of others enduring harsh conditions.

They found themselves in these centres after a failed bid to make it across the Mediterranean Sea to European countries, where they hoped they would get a chance at a better life.

Detainees in various centres have reportedly described routine torture, rape, malnutrition and exposure to diseases like tuberculosis due to the conditions they are forced to live in.

The second group are joining the first batch of 66 refugees and asylum-seekers which arrived in the country a few weeks ago.

All are part of the 500 refugees that Rwanda pledged to receive as part of the efforts to rescue the thousands that are languishing under gross human rights abuses in the North African country.

Olivier Kayumba, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Emergency Management, said the Government was ready to accord them necessary support at the centre.

"What next now is to take care of them. There are possibilities that some of them are sick because of the harsh conditions they have been living in, so we shall make sure they receive the right medical services," he said.

Officials said the first group had already started getting used to the environment and the surrounding community.

According to Bentum-Williams, majority of refugees wanted to study English, and English lessons kicked off the centre. 

"We will also be teaching them Kinyarwanda to help them integrate with communities around them," she noted.

According to the memorandum of understanding signed between Rwanda, UNHCR and the African Union, the asylum seekers have options to return to their countries of origin, they can be resettled to other countries and the option of longer stay in Rwanda.

Williams said there is another option known as complementary pathways that the incoming asylum seekers have.

These are safe and regulated avenues that complement refugee resettlement and by which refugees may be admitted in a country and have their international protection needs to be met while they are able to support themselves to potentially reach a sustainable and lasting solution.

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.


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