Panafrican News Agency

Rwandan newspapers highlight arrival of a second batch of African refugees from Libya

Kigali, Rwanda (PANA) - Rwandan papers this week highlighted the arrival in Rwanda of the second batch of 123 African migrants and refugees from Libya.

Comprising mostly youngsters aged between 14 and 20 years, they were accompanied by accompanied by members of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The arrival was a second life-saving evacuation of vulnerable refugees from Libya lands in Rwanda, according to UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic.

"One must see this as a life-saving gesture," The New Times English daily quoted Barbara Bentum-Williams Dotse, UNHCR Deputy Country Representative in Rwanda as saying upon welcoming the group.

According to the daily, the asylum seekers from different African countries were some of the victims of forced detention in Libya where there are thousands of others enduring harsh conditions.

The newspaper also reported that the group of new arrivals was part of the 500 refugees that Rwanda pledged to receive as part of the efforts to rescue the thousands that are languishing under gross human rights abuses in the North African country.

The group comprised mainly Eritreans as well as smaller numbers from Somalia, Ethiopia, and Sudan. Reports indicated that most of the group were evacuated via the Gathering and Departure Facility after UNHCR had previously secured their release from detention.

Others were evacuated directly from detention centres, while two had been living in urban areas. Among the evacuees were survivors of the 2 July airstrike on Tajoura detention centre.

In another article featuring photos of African migrants on arrival at Kigali International Airport, the vernacular newspaper Igihe reported that all these African migrants have been given asylum-seeker status while their cases are assessed and further solutions are pursued.

Either these new arrivals will choose their resettlement, voluntary return to countries of previous asylum, or voluntary return to countries of origin where it would be safe to do so and integration with local Rwandan communities, the newspaper wrote.

Commenting on the position of Rwandan government regarding the issue of African migrants evacuated from Libya, the private  daily Taarifa reported that ever since it was announced that Rwanda would be hosting refugees relocated from detention centres in Libya, the mainstream media and critics have been accusing Rwanda of somehow benefiting from this humanitarian decision.

No country has come forward to accept the thousands of refugees stranded in Libya, except Niger, that accepted about 700; but their facilities are dealing with overcrowding and cannot easily take in more refugees, yet the UN said some 42,000 refugees are currently stuck in Libya, the newspaper said.

According to Taarifa, which quoted Cosmas Chanda, UNHCR representative to the African Union (AU), Rwanda’s decision to take in up to 30,000 refugees, was timely and needed.

“We have been desperately searching for solutions for those people, fewer countries around the world are more than prepared than Rwanda to admit refugees,” the official said.

The reason these refugees were so desperate to be relocated from Libya, is the horrible conditions in which they were detained in the now-infamous Libyan Migrant Detention Centres.

On top of daily abuses, including torture, sexual violence and human rights abuses, recent fighting between rival factions in the Libyan civil war, led to bombing of a detention centre where dozens of refugees were killed, the newspaper said.

-0- PANA TWA/AR 12Oct2019