Rwanda receives more African refugees from Libya

Friday, October 11th, 2019 00:07 |
African refugees and asylum-seekers arrive at Kigali International Airport in Kigali, capital of Rwanda, Oct. 10, 2019. (Xinhua/Cyril Ndegeya)

Rwanda late Thursday received 123 African refugees and asylum-seekers who have been living in Libya's detention centers. 

   As the second group evacuated to Rwanda following another 66 who had arrived on Sept. 27, the refugees landed at Kigali International Airport at 11:30 p.m. (2130 GMT) and were then transported to Gashora transit center in eastern Rwanda by bus. 

The evacuation is an act of securing lives, Barbara Bentum-Williams Dotse, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) deputy representative to Rwanda, made the remark after receiving the refugees at the airport. 

Some evacuated refugees will be processed for resettlement to other countries, said the UN refugee agency, adding that others will be helped with alternative options, including returning to countries where they were previously granted asylum, returning home if they agree, or remaining as refugees in Rwanda. 

"The refugees have arrived safely in Rwanda and are now being accommodated at Gashora transit center as durable solutions. Repatriation and resettlement are being identified," Olivier Kayumba, permanent secretary of Rwanda's Ministry of Emergency Management, told Xinhua in a telephone interview Friday. 

  "Rwanda is committed to providing shelter, safety and security to vulnerable refugees evacuated from detention centers in Libya," said Kayumba. "Together with other partners, we are providing them humanitarian assistance and psycho-social support as they settle in a new environment." 

The UNHCR last month said it provided accommodation, food and water as well as daily items at the transit center, adding that nine health professionals including a psychologist and a team of counsellors will help the evacuees with trauma caused in Libya. 

The Rwandan government in September said it will "soon" receive 500 African refugees and asylum-seekers living in Libyan detention centers after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to set up a transit mechanism for evacuating refugees and asylum-seekers out of Libya. 

The MoU was signed by the Rwandan government, the UNHCR, and the African Union in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia. 

Libya has become a preferred departure point for illegal migrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe due to insecurity and chaos in the North African country following the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi. 

Shelters in Libya are crowded with thousands of illegal immigrants rescued at sea or arrested by the Libyan security services. (Xinhua)

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