Kagame commended for receiving refugees from Libya

On 26 April 2021 at 11:23

Filippo Grandi, the head of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has commended Rwanda for taking good care of refugees from Libya and particularly thanked President Paul Kagame for making a special decision to welcome them.

Filippo Grandi voiced the appreciation yesterday on 25th April 2021 as he visited Gashora Transit Camp located in Bugesera district, Eastern Province accommodating these refugees hailing from different countries including Somalia; Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan.

Filippo Grandi was along with the Minister of Emergency Management (MINEMA), Marie Solange Kayisire. He was taken through different facilities of the camp including a clinic, accommodations, and crafts center.

After touring different parts, Grandi said that establishing the camp was an idea from President Paul Kagame so that refugees stranded in Libya can be accommodated ins afe places.

“I am delighted to be here at this center. It was created from the idea of President Paul Kagame at a time when the World saw through the media, damning videos showing mistreatment of refugees from detention centers in Libya,” he said.

“At the time, President Paul Kagame was chairing the African Union. During a speech held at the time, he said that Rwanda wants to provide assistance. I spoke to him and accepted that we can establish a facility where people from these centers can be accommodated and treated humanely as the process to seek host countries continues, “added Grandi.

He explained that the World has two centers receiving these refugees from Libya including one in Niger and Rwanda.

“These are countries which came to us and committed to share responsibility. In fact, I would like to extend my since gratitude to President Kagame and Rwandans for commitment to take the responsibilities. They are heavy responsibilities to accommodate hundreds people on your land especially during these difficult times [of Coronavirus pandemic]. We are working hard to address their problems,” noted Grandi.

He also expressed satisfaction with the support these refugees are receiving where they access health services including mental health.

“I have been extremely satisfied with the work of the Government of Rwanda, UNHCR and Civil Society for doing a great job. I have been delighted to talk to accommodates refugees including a family from Somalia as well as young men from Eritrea and Ethiopia,” said Grandi.

“They have really gone through difficulties. This center has saved their lives not because it is the home of their dream but giving them relief in terms of health support to lead better life. This includes taking care of people with mental health problems, wounded ones feeding them. I visited them in detention centers in Libya. They endured lots of difficulties, torture, abuse, slavery and rape. Receiving health support is of crucial relevance,” he added.

Some of refugees told Grandi that they receive emergent support to fill requirements to get host countries.

He told refugees that the relocation to other countries has delayed due to COVID-19 and reassured them to scale up efforts to relocate them in collaboration with host countries.

Minister Kayisire said they had an opportunity to discuss with Grandi on problems affecting livelihoods of refugees including the reduction of funds allocated to help them.

It is expected that Grandi will resume his visit to Burundi traveling refugees returning home.

Rwanda has so far received five batches of refugees and asylum seekers from Libya.

The last batch arrived in the night of 29th December 2020 joining refugees and asylum seekers Rwanda welcomed in the previous four batches comprised of 385 people.

Some of them have been already granted refugee status in foreign countries including 131 taken to Sweden, 23 granted refuge in Canada, 46 in Norway while 5 others were granted refuge in France.

Rwanda signed agreements to host refugees stranded in Libya on 10th September 2019 with the African Union (AU) and UNHCR.

Rwanda made the commitment to host refugees from Libya in 2017 following revelations that thousands of people from across Africa were stranded in the country after their failure to reach Europe and subjected to slavery.

Rwanda committed to receiving 500 refugees at head first of whom a group of 66 African refugees and asylum-seekers from Libya arrived in Rwanda at the end of September 2019 in the first batch aboard the airplane of Buraq Air.

All batches were all accommodated at Gashora transit camp in Bugesera district which previously hosted thousands of Burundian refugees since 2015 before they were relocated to other sites.

Filippo Grandi was along with the Minister of Emergency Management (MINEMA), Marie Solange Kayisire as he visited refugees from Libya.