EU Allocates €22 Million To Help African Asylum Seekers In Rwanda

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Asylum seekers in Gashora Transit Camp (ETM) await to be transferred to a third country after being rescued from Libya

The European Union has announced the sum of €22 million to fund Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Rwanda, which temporally houses asylum seekers trapped in Libya in search of good life and security in Europe.

The transit center opened in September 2019 in partnership with Government of Rwanda and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

The support from EU will run from 2023 to 2026, extending Phase one which started in 2019, with the EU committing €12.5 million.

According to the UNHCR, The ETM provides a life-saving channel to evacuate refugees and asylum seekers in need of international protection from Libya to Rwanda.

While these individuals temporarily remain in Rwanda, they are provided with shelter as well as access to health, psychosocial support, and livelihood trainings for evacuees during the processing of their files and identification of future solutions, including onward resettlement to third countries.

EU Ambassador to Rwanda, Calvo Uyarra commended the effort to fund this transit Center, as it highlights African solidarity.

“The Emergency Transit Mechanism in Rwanda is a crucial life-saving initiative to evacuate people facing major threats and inhumane conditions in Libya to safety in Rwanda. It is a significant example of African solidarity and of partnership with the European Union. We are grateful to the Government of Rwanda for hosting these men, women and children until such time, durable solutions can be found”, she said.

UNHCR Rwanda Representative, Ms. Aissatou Ndiaye said “The needs of asylum seekers and refugees trapped in Libya are immense. Through the ETM and Government of Rwandan support, solutions are being found to bring them to safety, first in Rwanda and then subsequently in third countries through resettlement”.

She added that over the next years, they plan to support about 3,000 more people to find solutions to their plight.

UNHCR has evacuated about 1,500 refugees and asylum-seekers out of Libya to Rwanda since September 2019. Of these, over 900 people have since departed Rwanda for resettlement and other complementary legal pathways.

Among these, a large number of resettled refugees have been welcomed in EU countries, notably in Sweden, France, Belgium and Finland.

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