Rwanda receives first group of African refugees from Libya

Friday September 27 2019

African refuges and asylum seekers from Libya arrive in Rwanda

The first batch of the 500 African refuges and asylum seekers from Libya arrive at Kigali International Airport on September 26, 2019. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG 

KELLY RWAMAPERA
By KELLY RWAMAPERA
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The first batch of the 500 African refuges and asylum seekers from Libya have landed in Rwanda.

The move comes after Rwanda, UNHCR and African Union signed a Memorandum of Understanding early this month to evacuate refugees and asylum seekers out of Libya detention facilities.

The group of 66 African refugees landed at the Kigali International Airport on Thursday at 9:31 pm local time.

They were received by the Ministry in charge of emergency management (Minema) and UNHCR officials.

Media coverage of the reception of the group was not allowed as officials said that the press conference of the signing of the MoU in Addis Ababa was enough.

According to sources, the ministry barred journalists from accessing the refugees because some of them are emotionally and psychologically troubled by their ordeal, that government thought it would be safe for them not to be exposed to the media in their state.

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A group of 66 refugees and asylum seekers wait

A group of 66 refugees and asylum seekers wait for a bus at the Kigali International Airport on September 26, 2019, after they arrived in Rwanda. NDEGEYAPHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG

The group is composed of “many minors, single mothers and families” and “a two months-old little Somali girl born at the gathering and departure facility in Libya," UNHCR Libya tweeted.

In a Twitter post, Minema said that “more refugees and asylum-seekers from detention camps in Libya are expected in the coming weeks”.

Refugees voluntarily accepted the transfer after over three years of being stranded in Libya.

The group will be housed in a transit centre in Bugesera District, about two hours’ drive south of the capital Kigali.

A group of 66 refugees and asylum seekers board

A group of 66 refugees and asylum seekers board a bus taking them to a transit camp in Gashora-Eastern Province, after they arrived in Rwanda on September 26,2019. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG

The facility has been a transit centre for Burundian refugees since 2015 when political instability broke out in the country.
Recently, the facility was renovated by UNHCR in preparation of the 500 expected refugees and asylum seekers to be evacuated from Libya.

A group of 66 refugees and asylum seekers board

A group of 66 refugees and asylum seekers board a bus taking them to a transit camp in Gashora-Eastern Province, after they arrived in Rwanda on September 26,2019. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG

During their time in Rwanda, they will be resettled to third countries or, safety allowing, return to asylum and home countries, according to the MoU.

Rwanda hosts more than 140,000 Burundian and Congolese refugees in camps but a few exiles dwell in urban centres including Kigali.

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