BY JERRY OMONDI | CGTN AFRICA
Rwanda will later this week receive the first batch of refugees stranded in Libya as part of commitment made by President Paul Kagame’s government in 2017 to help ease the migrant crisis in the North African country.
The first group of 75 migrants are expected in Kigali on Thursday ahead of their transfer to a transit facility just outside the capital.
Authorities in the East African country said in November 2017 that they would work on a plan with Libyan authorities to have some 30,000 migrants taken to the East African country. This was in response to reports of stranded migrants being tortured and sold as slaves by human traffickers.
According to the UNHCR, some of the refugees that will arrive in Rwanda will settle in the country, some will be settled in third countries while others will be returned to countries where asylum had previously been granted.
The agency estimates that more than 50,000 people fleeing war and poverty in Africa remain in Libya, where they are holed up in inhumane detention centres.
Libya has bore a major brunt of the migrant crisis involving countries with access to the Mediterranean Sea.
Human trafficking cells have operated within the country for years, taking advantage of the crisis there. The country became a favoured departing point for migrants seeking to reach Europe by making the precarious sea crossing.
The African Union in 2017 urged its members to help the situation by taking in the migrants into their borders.
“I appeal to all member states of the African Union, the African private sector and African citizens to make financial contributions to help alleviate the suffering of African migrants in Libya,” AUC chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said in November 2017. “I urge member states that have logistical means to make them available to facilitate the evacuation of African migrants who wish to leave Libya.”
25 Questions about the Libya-Rwanda Evacuation Program
BY JEFF CRISP @JFCrisp
1) Will the evacuees be taken from Libyan detention centres or from UNHCR’s Gathering and Departure Facility?
2) If the evacuees are to be taken from detention centres, what guarantee is there that they will be released, given the fact that large amounts of money are being made from the detention industry?
3) How exactly will the evacuees be selected, given that the demand is likely to be much larger than the supply of places?
4) Does UNHCR anticipate a negative reaction from those refugees who are not selected for evacuation? How will that reaction be managed and mitigated?
5) Will the evacuation programme have any impact on the situation of people who are trapped in unofficial detention centres?
6) Given the limited scale of the evacuation programme, what measures are anticipated to improve conditions and prevent abuse in both official and unofficial detention centres? Why have the EU’s continual promises to introduce such measures apparently had no impact?
7) Does UNHCR anticipate that the EU-supported programme of interception and return by the Libyan coastguard will continue as the evacuations proceed? If so, will the net number of people in detention actually diminish?
8) What arrangements are being made for the immediate reception of evacuees in Rwanda and who will be in charge of them?
9) Who will administer the transit centre in which evacuees will be accommodated after their arrival in Rwanda?
10) Can UNHCR provide more details with respect to the facilities and services that will be available to evacuees in the transit centre? And what steps are being taken to sensitize local communities about their imminent arrival?
11) Will evacuees in the transit centre be provided with documentation and be able to exercise freedom of movement, expression and assembly?
12) How long are evacuees expected to spend in the transit centre? Does UNHCR anticipate any particular dificulties if the evacuees are obliged to remain there longer than anticipated?
13) Given the recent shooting of Congolese refugees by the Rwandan security services, what guarantees are there for the safety of evacuees in the transit centre?
14) Has UNHCR already identified resettlement places for some of the evacuees – and if so, how many and in which countries?
15) What exactly will happen if (as seems possible) the supply of resettlement places for evacuees does not meet the demand for them?
16) Will evacuees undergo any kind of status determination procedure before being considered for resettlement? If so, who will administer the procedure? And if so, what will happen to those deemed not to be in need of international protection?
17) Has UNHCR undertaken any kind of intention survey amongst potential evacuees? How many are likely to choose to return to their country of origin or country of first asylum, or to remain in Rwanda?
18) Will evacuees be able to exercise freedom of choice with respect to the different solutions available to them, or will individuals be encouraged/obliged to opt for a specific solution?
19) If evacuees are not able to access the solution of their choice, does UNHCR anticipate that some might move on to other countries in an irregular manner?
20) What will be the legal status and socio-economic rights of any evacuees who choose to remain in Rwanda? What support will they receive from UNHCR and its partners?
21) What role (if any) will IOM play in the evacuation programme, given that it is apparently not a party to the arrangement?
22) What is the initial budget for the evacuation programme, who will fund it and has any funding already been received for it?
23) To what extent has the EU been involved in the formulation of the evacuation programe, and to what extent has the EU offered incentives to Rwanda to participate in it?
24) If some of the evacuees are eventually to be resettled from Rwanda to Europe, why not simply resettle them directly from Libya?
25) Does the evacuation programme really represent a new form of externalization and offshore processing?