500 refugees trapped in Libya to be evacuated to Rwanda

Migrants are seen with their belongings in the yard of a detention centre for mainly African migrants, hit by an air strike, in the Tajoura suburb of Tripoli, Libya July 3, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 10 September 2019

500 refugees trapped in Libya to be evacuated to Rwanda

  • The deal comes after repeated allegations of dire conditions for migrants in Libya’s detention centers
  • The UN says its own center for migrants and refugees in Tripoli is becoming dangerously overcrowded

PARIS: Rwanda agreed Tuesday to take in 500 refugees and asylum-seekers trapped in Libya under an agreement signed with the United Nations and African Union.
The deal comes after repeated allegations of dire conditions for migrants in Libya’s detention centers, including beatings and other abuses, rape and a lack of both medical care and food. Many are intercepted in the Mediterranean by the EU-funded Libyan coast guard, which itself has been the repeated focus of abuse allegations.
The UN says its own center for migrants and refugees in Tripoli is becoming dangerously overcrowded as is its center for evacuees in Niger. The UN says around 4,700 people are being held in Libyan detention centers and around 1,000 in a separate UN facility in Tripoli.
Evacuation flights to Rwanda are expected to begin in the coming weeks. Under the deal, Rwanda would accept an initial group of 500 people who agreed to leave Libya, mostly from the Horn of Africa, and they would be housed in a center that has already been constructed 60 kilometers (37 miles) outside the capital, Kigali. They would be free to come and go from the center, according to Babar Beloch, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency.
Rwanda, however, has a troubled past with refugees. Amnesty International said that in 2018, Rwandan soldiers fired on protesting Congolese refugees, killing at least 11.
Baloch said the world body is asking members to contribute to the Rwanda evacuation, with hopes it can be expanded beyond the initial 500 people. He didn’t say what the budget would be or where the money came from for the initial departures.
“You could say that anything is better than being stuck in a Libyan detention center,” said Jeff Crisp, a migration researcher at Oxford University. “These are pretty desperate people and this is a potential opportunity to get somewhere else.”
But he cautioned that the deal raises numerous questions, including what choices the evacuees would have once they arrive in Rwanda, especially if they are refused refugee status or they aren’t given permanent placement in another country. In Niger, just a fraction of people have found spots in Europe or elsewhere and the camp has been full for months.


Arab leaders pay tribute to late emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah

Updated 20 min 26 sec ago

Arab leaders pay tribute to late emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah

  • Leaders from Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt, Oman and Iraq flew to Kuwait to offer condolences to the Kuwaiti royal family

CAIRO: Arab leaders flew to Kuwait on Thursday to offer condolences to the family of the late Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who passed away this week aged 91.
The newly crowned emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the brother and successor of Sheikh Sabah, has received leaders from Jordan, Bahrain, Egypt, Oman and Iraq.
Jordan’s king Abdullah II and his son, Crown Prince Hussein, offered their condolences to the Kuwaiti royal family. The Jordanian king’s delegation also had senior officials, among them was the country’s prime minister, foreign minister and senate president.
The president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Iraqi President Barham Salih, and Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said were among those paying their respects.
El-Sisi and Sultan Haitham were received at the Emiri Terminal by Emir Sheikh Nawaf.
Saudi Arabia was represented by Mansour bin Mutib, an adviser to King Salman.
Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad also offered his condolences.
Lt. Gen. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, the UAE’s deputy prime minister and interior minister, and Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, minister of tolerance and coexistence also attended the funeral to pay their respects.
Sheikh Sabah was buried on Wednesday after his body was flown home from the United States, where he had been receiving treatment since July.