Rwanda and Libya are currently working out an evacuation plan for some hundreds of migrants being held in detention centres in the North African country, officials confirmed.
Diyana Gitera, the Director General for Africa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation told The New Times that Rwanda was working on a proposal with partners to evacuate refugees from Libya.
She said that initially, Rwanda will receive 500 refugees as part of the commitment by President Paul Kagame in late 2017.
President Kagame made this commitment after revelations that tens of thousands of different African nationalities were stranded in Libya having failed to make it across the Mediterranean Sea to European countries.
“We are talking at this time of up to 500 refugees from Libya,” Gitera said, without revealing more details.
She however added that the exact timing of when these would be brought will be confirmed later.
It had earlier been said that Rwanda was ready to receive up to 30,000 immigrants under this arrangement.
Rwanda’s intervention came amid harrowing revelations that the migrants, most of them from West Africa, are being sold openly in modern-day slave markets in Libya.
The immigrants are expected to be received under an emergency plan being discussed with international humanitarian agencies and other partners.
Gitera highlighted that the process was being specifically supported by the African Union (AU) with funding from European Union (EU) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
The proposal comes as conflict in war-torn North African country deepens.
The United Nations estimates almost 5,000 migrants are in detention centres in Libya, about 70 per cent of them refugees and asylum seekers, most of whom have been subjected to different forms of abuse.
This is however against the backdrop of accusations against the EU over the plight of migrants.
Already, thousands of the migrants have died over the past few years while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to European countries where they hope for better lives.
Human rights groups have documented multiple cases of rape, torture and other crimes at the facilities, some of which are run by militias.
Rwanda hopes to step in to rescue some of these struggling migrants in its capacity.
The Government of Rwanda has been generously hosting refugees for over two decades and coordinates the refugee response with UNHCR, as well as providing land to establish refugee camps and ensuring camp management and security.
Generally, Rwanda offers a favourable protection environment for refugees.
They have the right to education, employment, cross borders, and access to durable solutions (resettlement, local integration and return) is unhindered.
Camps like Gihembe, Kigeme, Kiziba, Mugombwa and Nyabiheke host thousands of refugees, especially from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi where political instabilities have forced people to leave their countries.