Up to 6,600 refugees in Rwanda were “safely” resettled in third countries in 2023, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
With the departure of 13 refugees on a flight bound for Toronto, Canada, on Wednesday, November 8, the total number of refugees resettled from Rwanda reached 30,000 since 2010, the IOM said.
They include nearly 1,300 asylum seekers who were evacuated from Libyan detention centres through an emergency transit mechanism between the Rwandan government and the United Nations refugee agency.
By the end of September, Rwanda was home to more than 135,000 refugees, mostly from DR Congo and Burundi, according to the UN. Over 90 per cent of them live in camps.
According to the IOM, the resettlement programme is one of “durable solutions” for refugees and people in need of international protection.
“Resettlement provides international protection for the most vulnerable people in our world, as well as a chance for them to build new lives,” said IOM’s Rwanda Chief of Mission, Ash Carl.
“We will continue to work closely with the government and our partners in Rwanda, as well as the governments of the countries of destination, to ensure refugees and migrants have safe and dignified pathways to successfully integrate into their new communities.”
The resettlement programme includes IOM-facilitated interviews by third countries, health assessments, screening and referral, pre-departure cultural orientation, and safe transport and reception in the country of final destination.
“Resettlement is one of the three solutions for refugees that our government supports,” Permanent Secretary in the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management Phillipe Habinshuti told The New Times.
“Refugees in Rwanda can return to their home countries when peace and security have been restored. They may choose to stay in Rwanda or opt for resettlement in third countries that are willing to take them in,” he said.
The resettlement programme has been available in Rwanda since 1998.
Though the programme is managed by the IOM, Habinshuti said Rwanda facilitates it by ensuring it goes in line with the country’s immigration laws in particular.