The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, (UNHCR), confirmed the first batch of 66 African refugees and asylum-seekers from Libya arrived in Rwanda, reported News 24.
The group aboard a chartered plane touched down at the Kigali International Airport on Thursday evening. Many of the refugees that were received in Rwanda are from the Horn of Africa, a region that includes Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.
“Just landed!” the UN refugee agency wrote on its Twitter account as the first group of unaccompanied minors, single mothers and families landed in the Rwandan capital. The youngest passenger was a two-month old girl born to Somali parents in Libya.
Upon arrival, the refugees were registered and provided with documentation. They were transferred to a transit centre in Gashora some 60 kilometers south of the capital, Kigali, where UNHCR will provide them with accommodation, food, water, kitchen sets, blankets, mosquito nets and other core relief items. They will remain in the transit center before being resettled elsewhere unless they agree to return to their home countries.
A team of nine health professionals and counsellors specialized in working with children and survivors of sexual violence will provide health care and assist evacuees who survived torture, sexual violence and human rights abuses during their time in Libya.
The move follows Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame’s pledge made in 2017 to offer a “home” to Africans after reports emerged of the torture, sexual violence and forced labour they suffer in Libya. Earlier this month, the Rwandan government signed a deal with the African Union (AU) and the United Nations refugee agency agreeing to take in African refugees and asylum-seekers stranded in Libya.
The Rwandan government has said it is prepared to accommodate as many as 30 000 evacuees. A second evacuation flight is expected in the coming weeks.
According to the UN, some 42,000 refugees are currently in Libya.