After years of preparation, Rwanda is finally in the process of receiving 500 refugees from Libya.
This follows President Paul Kagame’s January 2018 offer to host the refugees. The signing of the agreement between the African Union (AU), the Government of Rwanda, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to establish an Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Rwanda for refugees and asylum-seekers stranded in Libya took place yesterday.
The New Times talked to various individuals, from civil society actors to politicians about their views about the deal.
“Africa should be a hub of opportunities for Africans,” MP Ruku Rwabyoma told The New Times, adding “Rwanda and some other African states have always been welcoming to everyone and this is just another step forward.”
“Instead of going to Italy, Europe, America, Asia or elsewhere, African states should welcome Africans in need. Regrettably, this is not always the case, but we believe states and their citizens are going to address challenges that limit connection,” he noted.
John-Bosco Nyemazi, the Executive Secretary of Rwanda Civil Society Platform, said that it is a proactive move designed to defend human rights.
“This is a question of human rights and Rwanda is proactively working on assuring that rights are fulfilled,” Nyemazi said. “This is a model of inclusion that literally leaves no one behind. The refugees, particularly the youth, are being given a chance to rebuild their lives.”
“They will notice that they can prosper here instead of sinking on the way to Europe,” he said.
“This should send a message to other African countries,” Protais Musoni, the Chairperson of the Pan-African Movement (PAM) in Rwanda, told The New Times. “It is very important that Africans work together to promote peace in their home countries. This is in the spirit of the Agenda 2063 that Africans provide solutions to their own problems,” he added. Musoni also said that PAM Rwanda is willing to learn from the refugees to see if it can help mobilise change through the larger PAM family.
The Government of Rwanda has been hosting refugees for over two decades and coordinates refugee response with UNHCR.
Efforts are in place to provide land to establish refugee camps and ensure camp management and security for all refugees.
It has previously been suggested that Rwanda could receive up to 30,000 refugees from Libya.
Evacuation flights are expected to begin in the coming weeks and will be carried out in cooperation with the Rwandan and Libyan authorities, according to Tumukunde Hope, Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to the African Union, who signed the MoU on behalf of Rwanda.