Rwanda opens its arms to desperate migrants
Publish date: 16 September 2019
Issue Number: 841
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Rwanda has agreed to take in hundreds of African migrants who are being held in Libyan detention centres. A joint agreement between the government, the UN refugee agency and the AU was announced this week. BBC News reports that an initial group of 500 people will be flown to Rwanda within the next few weeks. That group, which includes children and other vulnerable young people, is mainly made up of refugees from the Horn of Africa. Thousands of migrants head to Libya each year to try to make the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. The New Times reports that rights groups have documented multiple cases of rape, torture and other crimes at the detention facilities in Libya, some of which are run by militia groups. Rwanda is already home to hundreds of thousands of refugees from mainly DR Congo and Burundi. According to the UN, about 4 700 people urgently need to be moved to safety from detention centres where conditions are grim. Rwanda first made an offer to give refuge to the migrants in November 2017. It came after CNN released footage that showed men in Libya being auctioned off as slaves. Germaine Kamayirese, Rwanda's Minister of Refugee Affairs, denied that the country was being paid to take in the migrants. 'It is just a humanitarian action,' she told reporters in Kigali. 'Any African should aim to do the same.'