EDITORIAL: Countries should not abandon Africans stranded in Libya

When the government announced two years ago that it was willing to give refuge to some of the Africans stranded in Libya, the reaction was mixed, but what stood out were the mocking tones.

Some ignorantly suggested that Rwanda first deal with its own refugee problem yet the country threw its gate wide open years ago. Those who refuse to return are either comfortably settled or fear to face justice for their role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

So, here we have thousands of Africans fleeing their countries and taking on the treacherous Sahara Desert, and if they are lucky, they end up in Libya where human trafficking is big business.

Across the Mediterranean is the Eldorado the refugees have been dreaming of; it is a huge gamble and many will not make it across but to the bottom of the sea. Others will simply be sold on the open slave market.

Their fate is a crisis of global proportions but many countries are just bystanders and only Niger, Romania and Rwanda have offered to take in the unfortunate refugees under the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM).

In partnership with UNHCR, transit camps have been set up and Rwanda is ready to accommodate 500 at any given time. As they await their lot to be sorted at the ETM camp in Gashora, Eastern Province, they will be accorded all the protection they need; they can go to school and can get work permits.

It is estimated that 5,000 are still stranded in Libya, so instead of some people finding it a problem that Rwanda has offered a helping hand, they should instead lobby their own governments to play their bit. As for the refugees that will be accommodated here, they can rest assured of the same services accorded to citizens.

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