Rwanda promises African migrants in Libya work permits to relocate

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Rwanda has offered African migrants in Libya the chance to relocate and live a better life.

The East African country says it would provide the migrants scrambling for greener pastures in the war-torn North African country work permits and freedom of movement in an effort to lure them out of current predicaments.

Rwandan diplomats disclosed this during a private meeting with American Congressional officials last week at the Rwandan Embassy in Washington D.C., reports regional media The EastAfrican.

According to sources with knowledge of the development, Rwanda had also agreed to provide the migrants access to education and identification documents.

Human Rights advocates have welcomed the commitment of the Rwandan government to be held with the inhumane migrant situation in Libya.

 “The embassy also assured the congress officials that all refugees in Rwanda would have protection and that nobody would be forcibly repatriated,” an official told The EastAfrican.

The deal would answer two main concerns of human-rights groups—free movement and protection of the refugees and it is not clear if the relocation would be on a permanent or temporary basis.

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Five hundred refugees are expected to relocate from Libya under the deal but Rwanda said it could take as high as 30,000 under an “emergency transit mechanism” funded by the EU and the UN.

African migrants
African migrants

The EastAfrica reports that Rwanda is working out the final details with UNHCR and the Libyan government and the country is “ready to go as soon as they get the green light.”

There are at least 641,398 migrants who originated from more than 39 countries currently present in Libya. They were identified in all 100 municipalities, within 565 communities, according to the 25th round of the International Organization for Migration’s Displacement Tracking Metrix (DTM) data collection, which took place in March, April and May 2019.

Out of the total number of migrants identified, 602,282 individuals (94%) originated from 28 different African countries while 38,897 individuals (6%) came from 10 Asian and Middle Eastern countries. The remaining 219 individuals were recorded as of unknown nationality or other countries of origin.

At least 21 African nationalities were identified in Libya during this round. Out of the African nationals identified, 417,117 originated from Sub-Saharan countries. Fifty-five percent of Sub-Saharan migrants were identified in the West. The region of Tripoli hosted 20% of the Sub-Saharan migrants identified in Libya. Thirty-one percent of the Sub-Saharan migrants were identified in the South, mainly in Murzuk and Sebha. The remaining 14% were identified in the East mainly in the region of Ejdabia, which hosts half of the Sub-Saharan migrants identified in the East.

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In 2017, CNN uncovered a very worrying development in Libya, where migrants were auctioned like ornaments.

“Not a used car, a piece of land, or an item of furniture. Not “merchandise” at all, but two human beings,” CNN wrote of the heartrending discovery.

First Lieutenant Naser Hazam of the government’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency in Tripoli told CNN that although he had not witnessed a slave auction, he acknowledged that organized gangs are operating smuggling rings in the country.

“They fill a boat with 100 people, those people may or may not make it,” Hazam says. “(The smuggler) does not care as long as he gets the money, and the migrant may get to Europe or die at sea.”

“The situation is dire,” Mohammed Abdiker, the director of operation and emergencies for the International Organization for Migration, said in a statement after returning from Tripoli in April. “Some reports are truly horrifying and the latest reports of ‘slave markets’ for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages.”

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