Filipo Grandi: I am impressed by the work done by the government, I enjoyed talking to people here. They have gone through incredible suffering, so this centre is really lifesaving for them not only because through here they find a future but also they are taken care of here.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filipo Grandi on Sunday visited the Gashora Emergency Transit Mechanism to among others inspect the well-being of asylum seekers from Libya who are temporarily hosted in Rwanda.
The visit was characterized by various events including a guided tour around the Bugesera district-based centre and inauguration of new facilities at the centre among others.
Grandi also took the opportunity to visit the Nyamata Genocide Memorial where he laid wreath in tribute to the over 45,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi interred at the memorial.
Below are five key takeaways of his visit:
1. Rwanda took on a huge responsibility
Speaking to the media during the tour, Grandi revealed that the government of Rwanda is the second country in the world with a facility to help stranded refugees from another country.
“We have two in the world, one in Rwanda and another in Niger. These are the two countries that came forward and said they wanted to share this responsibility.”
He said that this is a huge responsibility to have hundreds of people on your soil in your nation and host them during this difficult time.
Grandi commended the government’s efforts, citing that his institution is fully engaged to find solutions for the refugees.
“Most of them will find third countries and we are going to find solutions for the rest,” he assured.
2. Efforts to repatriate Congolese refugees
Asked about the current concern of Congolese refugees, some of them have been in Rwanda for over 20 years and have shown interest in returning to their country, Grandi described it as a topic of discussion.
“I was in Congo, and we will continue to engage both sides including the Rwandan government that has hosted them for years very generously.”
Grandi reiterated that many of the refugees come from eastern DR Congo which he said is ‘a rather unstable area’.
“But we are discussing the way forward for this group.”
Marie-Solange Kayisire, the Minister of Emergency Management echoed similar sentiments, citing that talks with the Congolese side are underway.
3. More asylum seekers expected from Libya, Burundians to leave
According to Kayisire, the government of Rwanda will receive another group of 120 asylum seekers from Libya, making it the sixth batch to be temporarily hosted in Rwanda before being relocated to third countries.
She also revealed that a number of Burundians who have shown interest in returning back to Burundi will on Wednesday this week be facilitated back to their country, as it has been since 2020.
“It is voluntary repatriation and we look at those who are willing,” she said.
On another hand, Grandi said that his institution is planning to the government of Burundi’s capacity to host the refugees.
“Many Burundians in Rwanda have expressed the wish to go back home. I will be there to review how the conditions of return are revolving.”
4. Appeal to donors for food relief
Rwanda, like other countries, is currently facing a shortage in distribution among refugee camps, Grandi asserted.
“The UNHCR and World Food Programme are looking for donors to provide more support for food programs for refugees,” he added, “In many places, they don’t have alternatives they need food.”
In addition, Minister Kayisire highlighted that there shortage of food in all camps in Rwanda, saying that it has largely impacted the refugee’s lives.
“This is something we discussed with UNHCR and PAM.” She said.
5. Lifesaving opportunity
In his remarks, Grandi described the Gashora Emergency Transit Mechanism as a lifesaving facility, adding that through the centre, the refugees can hope for a future with their life.
“I am impressed by the work done by the government, I enjoyed talking to people here. They have gone through incredible suffering, so this centre is really lifesaving for them not only because through here they find a future but also they are taken care of here.”
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“I can assure I have visited those detention centres in Libya and these people have gone through incredible torture, abuse, exploitation, rape. For them to have all sorts of mental health support is incredibly important.”
He added that UNHCR will continue to evacuate them until the condition is no longer fragile.
His hope, he said was for the situation in Libya to improve, add. “For the time being it is still fragile so we will continue to host them in these facilities.”
Filipo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Marie-Solange Kayisire, the Minister of Emergency Management, during the inauguration of new facilities at the centre.
Filipo Grandi visited the Gashora Emergency Transit Mechanism on April 25.
Filipo Grandi planting a tree at the centre.
The visit was characterized by various events including a guided tour around the Bugesera District-based centre.