KIGALI, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Rwanda will "soon" receive 500 African refugees and asylum seekers living in Libyan detention centers, Rwandan Minister in charge of Emergency Management Germaine Kamayirese said here on Tuesday, after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set up a transit mechanism for evacuating refugees and asylum seekers out of Libya.
The government of Rwanda, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the African Union signed the MoU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
"The group will be transferred to safety in Rwanda on a voluntary basis. Under the agreement, the first group of 500 persons in need of international protection will be evacuated soon," said Kamayirese at a joint press conference about the agreement with UNHCR Representative to Rwanda Ahmed Baba Fall.
Under the signed agreement, the government of Rwanda will 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,
With the cooperation of Rwanda and Libyan authorities, evacuation flights are expected to begin "in the coming weeks," she said, adding that they will be hosted at a refugee transit center in Bugesera district, southern Rwanda.
The African Union will provide assistance with evacuations, mobilize resources and provide strategic political support with training and coordination, she added.
Upon the group's arrival in Rwanda some might 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 where it is safe to do so, said the minister, noting that some could be granted permission to remain in Rwanda.
African problems must be sorted out and find solutions in Africa and the government of Rwanda committing to receive them is a humanitarian action, she said, denying receiving funds to host them.
UNHCR has evacuated more than 4,400 persons of concern out of Libya to other countries since 2017, including 2,900 through the Emergency Transit Mechanism in Niger and 425 to European countries through the Emergency Transit Center in Romania, according to a joint statement of the signatories of the MoU.
However, some 4,700 persons of concern are currently estimated to be held in dire conditions inside detention centers in Libya, who urgently need to be moved to safety and to be provided with protection, lifesaving assistance and durable solutions, it said.