A total of 134 refugees and asylum seekers, constituting the fourteenth group to be rescued from Libya, successfully arrived in Rwanda on Monday, June 12.
These individuals come from various countries including Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Cameroon, and Mali. They will find temporary accommodation at the Gashora Transit Center, where other evacuees have been staying.
The collaboration between the Government of Rwanda, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the African Union has led to the establishment of an Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM).
The primary goal of this mechanism is to provide critical protection, assistance, and long-term solutions to vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers who find themselves trapped in Libya. Through temporary evacuations to Rwanda, these individuals can escape the dire circumstances they face.
Since 2019, Rwanda has acted as a temporary host to more than 1,600 asylum seekers. During this time, the UNHCR has been working diligently to find appropriate solutions for them. These solutions include relocation to third countries, repatriation to their native countries, or the possibility of remaining in Rwanda as citizens.
In a statement made to The New Times in April, UNHCR Rwanda’s spokesperson, Lilly Carlisle, expressed the agency’s desire to extend the agreement. The current deal is set to expire in December 2023. However, the pressing issue of asylum seekers in Libya persists, making an extension of the agreement crucial.
The initial agreement was first signed in 2019 and later renewed in 2021. It established the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Rwanda.
This mechanism serves as a safe haven for asylum seekers who have faced perilous journeys and unsuccessful attempts to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe.