Rwanda received 119 more asylum seekers from Libya Tuesday evening, bringing the total number of evacuees to Rwanda to 943 since the start of the programme under the Emergency Transit Mechanism in September 2019.
This is the eighth batch of evacuation flights to arrive in Rwanda and the first in 2022. Most of the asylum seekers are from Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia. Some had been living in Tripoli, and others had been arbitrarily held in detention, some for several months.
They will join other 269 refugees and asylum seekers currently hosted at the transit center in Gashora, Bugesera, as they await resettlement to third countries, return to countries of origin, or reside in Rwanda, among other options. Since 2019, more than 620 asylum seekers have been resettled in third countries, according to UNHCR Rwanda.
This is the second flight of evacuees received since Rwanda, the African Union, and UNHCR in November signed an addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM), extending the operation of the Gashora based transit center to accommodate refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable people at risk in Libya until December 31, 2023.
For the past two years, the coronavirus-related travel glitches hampered resettlement but the process eventually resumed and two flights were received in 2021. At Gashora transit center, asylum seekers and refugees are provided with assistance including shelter, food, medical care, psycho-social support for vulnerable cases, activities for children, and language courses. The African Union also mobilises resources and provides strategic political support with training and coordination.
Parties also agreed to expand the capacity of the transit facility from the initial capacity of 500 persons to accommodate 700 people. Last year, UNHCR estimated that some 1,680 Persons of Concern are still trapped inside detention centers across Libya and urgently need to be evacuated to safety.
With this latest evacuation, 8,143 vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers have been taken out of Libya to various safer countries since 2017. Last year, Rwanda signed another deal with Denmark regarding co-operation on asylum and migration issues, which would enable Rwanda to host asylum seekers from the European country that hosts Syrian refugees.