KIGALI - 19 students and a family of six, yesterday, arrived aboard Rwandair following their evacuation from Libya.
The evacuation took place amid continued political unrest in the North African country where civilian protesters want the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, to step down after 41 years in power.
According to the Director of Diaspora directorate in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Kabakeza, the group was evacuated from Tripoli with Turkish assistance.
“After the uprising began, we sought means to rescue our people. Since we have no embassy in Tripoli we negotiated with the Turkish who were also planning to evacuate their nationals,” he said.
The Rwanda honorary Consul in Istanbul, Inanc Ciftci, explained that he received a call from Minister Louise Mushikiwabo asking for support.
“We had 25,000 Turkish students and a group of businessmen to be evacuated. The minister sent us a list of Rwandans with their contacts. We called them individually and explained to them how to reach the Airport,” he said.
Ciftci said it was difficult because transport was not easily accessible but they managed to reach the Airport where they joined the Turkish nationals.
They were flown to Istanbul aboard Turkish Airlines before connecting to Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.
Samuel Muhayimana a College Science teacher has been in Libya since 1986 and he came with his wife and four children.
“The situation was like hell to us, we were targeted after international media said Gaddafi had hired black African mercenaries,” Muhayimana said, adding that he had left his property and money in Tripoli.
Ramadan Mustapha, a Tripoli Islamic University student since 2009, said life suddenly turned bad after rioters took to the streets and communication infrastructure was disabled.
“We could not access the internet or telephone, making it difficult to communicate with our relatives. It came a time when I thought I was dreaming. Prices hiked rapidly and generally our security was at stake” explained Mustapha, adding that he was proud of his government’s concerns for them.
Kabakeza thanked the Turkish government for the support, saying that Rwanda, just like the international community, is concerned about violence in Libya and condemns human rights violations.
The group follows last month’s evacuation of 44 students from Egypt following similar protests.