Panafrican News Agency

Rwanda, AU sign MOU on receiving asylum-seekers stranded in Libya

Kigali, Rwanda (PANA) - Rwanda on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the African Union (AU) on receiving and providing protection to refugees and asylum seekers who are currently being held in detention centres in Libya.

The MOU aims to establish an Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Rwanda for refugees and asylum seekers stranded in Libya, a joint statement issued in Kigali said.

It said that under the agreement, a first group of 500 persons in need of international protection including people originating from the Horn of Africa, children and youth will be evacuated.

After their arrival, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) will continue to pursue solutions for the evacuees, it said.

The move comes after Rwanda had in 2017, offered to host 30,000 African immigrants stuck in Libya.

Under the agreement, evacuation flights are expected to begin in the coming weeks, and will be carried out in co-operation with Rwandan and Libyan authorities.

The African Union (AU) will provide assistance with evacuations, mobilise resources and provide strategic political support with training and coordination.

While some may benefit from resettlement to third countries, others will be helped to return to countries where asylum had previously been granted, or return to their home countries if it is safe to do, according to the statement.

Latest reports indicate that UNHCR has so far evacuated more than 4,400 persons of concern out of Libya to other countries since 2017.

Currently another 4,700 persons of concern are currently held in appalling conditions inside detention centres in Libya.

The UNHCR said these people urgently need to be moved to safety and provided with protection and lifesaving assistance.

In addition, the UN agency urged international community to contribute resources to the implementation of the agreement.

-0- PANA TWA/MA 10Sept2019