Rwanda has agreed to extend the hosting of African refugees and asylum seekers evacuated from Libya up to 2023, following the signing of a new memorandum of understanding between the government of Rwanda with the African Union and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The three sides last month signed the addendum and extension to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) dated in September 2019 for the establishment of a transit mechanism in Rwanda for African refugees and asylum seekers who were stranded in Libya.
The transit center established in Gashora in eastern Rwanda will continue until Dec. 31, 2023, and increase its capacity from the initial 500 to 700 persons, according to a joint press release issued Monday by Rwandan Ministry in charge of Emergency Management.
“The Government of Rwanda will continue to receive and provide protection to refugees and asylum-seekers, as well as others identified as particularly vulnerable and at-risk, who are currently being held in detention centers in Libya,” read the press release.
Noting that the refugees will be transferred to safety in Rwanda on a voluntary basis, UNHCR affirmed its commitment to continuing to pursue durable solutions for the evacuees upon their arrival in Rwanda.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, while some may benefit from resettlement to third countries, others will be helped to return to countries where asylum had previously been granted, or to return to their home countries if it is safe to do so. Some may be given permission to remain in Rwanda subject to agreement by the competent authorities.
With assistance from the African Union, evacuation flights are expected to resume and be carried out in cooperation with Rwandan and Libyan authorities, according to UNHCR.
Rwanda has received a total of 648 refugees and asylum seekers so far, who arrived in six evacuation flights from Libya since Sept. 2019, according to data from the UN refugee agency.
Currently, the center in Rwanda hosts 281 refugees and asylum seekers.
There are reportedly some 1,680 Persons of Concern (POCs) inside detention centers across Libya who urgently need to be moved to safety and to be provided with protection, lifesaving assistance, and durable solutions.
The AU and UNHCR appealed to the international community to continue contributing resources toward the implementation of the agreement and assist POCs in detention centers. Enditem