Rwandans have aired their views following the arrival of the first group of African refugees and asylum-seekers in the country from Libya.
A group of 66 refugees from the North African country jetted in on Thursday, becoming the first group of the 500 evacuees that Rwanda agreed to host as part of the efforts to rescue thousands that are enduring gross human rights abuses in detention camps Libya.
Twenty-six of the 66 evacuees, according to UNHCR, are children including, a two-month old baby that was born in a detention facility in Libya.
The UNHCR said that nearly all of the children were neither accompanied by a parent nor family member.
Rwandans who spoke to Saturday Times and others using social media platforms reached out in a show of solidarity with the African asylum-seekers.
Richard Mutabazi the Mayor of Bugesera District where the refugees are being hosted, tweeted a picture when he was interacting with two of the children.
“Meet my new friends Noho, 3 years (old) and Bethlehem, 4 years. Noho is super cute and I can go to bed now that they are all asleep, after their first Rwandan meal. They also learnt their first Kinyarwanda word: Hobe, (an invitation to warm embrace)” he tweeted.
Meet my new friends #Noho, 3yrs& #Bethlehem, 4yrs. Noho is super cute and i can go to bed now that they are all asleep, after their first rwandan meal. They also learnt their first kinyarwanda word: #Hobeee.@UNHCRLibya @NewTimesRwanda @rbarwanda #RwOT @RwandaEast @NimwizaMeghan pic.twitter.com/sL8TJpwDME
— Richard Mutabazi (@MutabaziRich) September 27, 2019
The mayor had on Thursday night visited them at the Gashora Transit Centre where the refugees were transferred to, immediately after their arrival.
“Thank you my Country! This act of kindness will go a long way to shape their life. And to those who give, more shall be added unto them. Proud to be Rwandan,” Donnah Kamashazi, wrote on Twitter.
Thank you my Country! This act of kindness will go a long way to shape their life. And to those who give, more shall be added unto them. Proud to be Rwandan@ethosfirm
— Donnah Kamashazi (@kamashazd) September 27, 2019
Francisca Mujawase, another Twitter user, also expressed support for the refugees, who UNHCR say are from Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan.
“Sharing is caring. With the little we have, we welcome you with a good heart. Feel at home brothers and sisters and mostly my love goes to all little children... thanks my president,” she said in reference to President Paul Kagame who first announced in 2017 that Rwanda would be taking in some of the Africans stranded in Libya, having failed to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
Another Twitter user going by the name of Keza, said that “Rwanda is a warm home and we welcome them with happy hearts, we wish them to feel at home…may they be happy in Rwanda and work good for the future.”
Musa Shumbusho, a resident of Nyamirambo, told Saturday Times that it is a good act that shows that Africans can take care of each other, instead of looking to the outside for solutions.
“It is a depiction that we, as Africans, can help ourselves, instead of waiting for foreign support,” he said.
“Our history as Rwandans connects us to these refugees because we were also forced out of our country for some time. So, when we see others suffering we understand what they are passing through.”
Patrick Kamugisha, the guild president of University of Kigali, says Rwanda’s gesture is an example to other countries.
“It sends a message of humanity,” he said.
Many others, including foreign nationals, took to social media to at least say: Welcome.