The third group of 116 refugees and asylum seekers evacuated from Libya under the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) safely arrived in Rwanda last night, bringing the total of refugees airlifted from Libya to 308.
The group arrived last night close to midnight aboard a chartered flight before they were driven to Gashora ETM Centre in Bugesera district. They joined 189 refugees and asylum seekers who have been evacuated from Libya 26/9 and 10/10.
According to the Ministry of Emergency Management (MINEMA), 123 had been expected but 6 could not have their documents on time while 1 person changed his mind at the airport and refused to be voluntarily evacuation, leaving only 116 to board the plane.
The group, which included young men and women and two children mainly originate from the horn of Africa and Sudan and were part of the over 4,700 African refugees and asylum seekers who are facing danger in Libya and are in need of urgent action.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Country Representative Ahmed Baba Fall, commended the government of Rwanda for showing a kind heart to accept and take in the refugees whose lives are exposed to danger as more solutions are being sought.
“First of all I want to thank the Government of Rwanda for the continued contribution towards finding solutions for the challenges the continent faces. This group is part of the bigger group of people who have been stuck in Libya in very dangerous conditions,”
“We are confident that their lives are going to change for the better here in Rwanda. They will go to the centre and find their colleagues where they will be helped and rehabilitated as we find a solution for them, whether it is getting them a third country to relocate them or back to their countries or considering the option of staying in Rwanda,” he said.
The UNHCR Country Representative confirmed that several partners including the European Union (EU) have come on board to support the efforts with a €10.3 million contribution while Norway has contributed $5.5 million.
Baba Fall said that several countries including Norwa y and Sweden have also offered to take in some of the most vulnerable refugees while Italy, UK, Malta and U.S have also offered to taken in some refugees next year.
He said the next group is expected to arrive next month. The Government of Rwanda has offered to host at least 500 refugees temporarily at any given time.
The development came few days after the EU announced a €10.3 million support fund for life-saving refugee support measures aimed at evacuating about 4, 700 African immigrants and refugees who are stuck in detention centres in Libya.
Earlier this week, during his visit to Rwanda, the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development at the EU, Neven Mimica announced a €10.3 million support package which will be channelled through the UNHCR.
The fund provides a life-saving avenue out of Libya for people in need of international protection, with a view to their further resettlement.
The funding is provided through the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. This initiative builds on the example of the ETM Niger, through which more than 2,900 refugees and asylum seekers have been evacuated out of Libya since 2017.
“The Emergency Transit Mechanism in Rwanda is a vital life-saving measure to bring people in need of international protection out of Libya. It is an important sign of African solidarity and of partnership with the European Union,” said Federica Mogherini, the High Representative/Vice-President of EU.
“It broadens the support to the most vulnerable people held in Libyan detention centres that need to be closed urgently,” she added.
On his part, Commissioner Mimica said that the EU is committed to support the efforts of the Government of Rwanda to provide protection for the refugees who are living in precarious conditions in the North African country.
“This project will support efforts of the Government of Rwanda to receive and provide protection to about 1,500 refugees and asylum-seekers who are currently being held in detention centres in Libya,”
“Such a remarkable and powerful proof of African solidarity should be further encouraged, replicated and supported,” Commissioner Mimica said.
The UNHCR has evacuated more than 4,250 refugees and asylum-seekers out of Libya to other countries since 2017.
However, around 4,700 people are currently estimated to be held in dire conditions inside detention centres in the country. They urgently need to be moved to safety and to be provided with protection, lifesaving assistance, and durable solutions.
Following the escalation in and around Tripoli, namely the July air strike on a migrant detention centre, the EU continues to support the vital work of the Gathering and Departure Facility on location.
The EU is also supporting the UNHCR’s increased efforts to transfer to Tripoli the most vulnerable people in need of international protection from conflict areas where they are at risk, pending their evacuation outside of Libya.
Rwanda has committed to take in at least 500 refugees at any given time as the UNHCR, African Union, EU and other partners look for a solution. The evacuation to Rwanda is temporary with the refugees having the option of going back to home countries or being taken to a third country.
Rwanda has also offered to take in those who are willing to formalise their stay in Rwanda. The Norwegian government has also offered over €5m to support the process.
The Permanent Secretary of MINEMA Olivier Kayumba, told KT Press, that “Gashora transit centre hosting refugees and asylum seekers evacuated from Libya is well equipped for the existing 183 refugees and asylum seekers.”
Kayumba also said, that the camps ” is well equipped for the 123 arriving on 24th November, 2019. The Gashora Transit Centre is undergoing further renovations to increase its capacity to receive the remaining 188 refugees and asylum seekers.”
For their resettlement (Relocation) as well as other related supports, Kayumba said, the engagements are on going between different partners as well as countries working on effective implementation of emergency Transit Mechanism. The exercise is led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).