Outsourcing of rights

The agreement between Unhcr and Rwanda for the reception of people stranded in Libya

On 9 September last, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, an agreement was signed between the Government of Rwanda, UNHCR and the African Union. The agreement regulates the operation of the so-called Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM), a system that provides for the relocation of at least 500 people stranded in Libya to Rwanda.

United Nations estimates that almost 5,000 refugees are in detention in Libya, about 70 per cent of whom are refugees and asylum seekers, with most of them having been subjected to different forms of abuse. At the meeting in Addis Abeba, emerged that evacuating refugees from Libya was an urgent task and there was a need to set up an Emergency Transit Mechanism like the one in Niger or Romania.

Compared to the times, there is general talk of the ‘next few weeks’, while it is official that migrants will be welcomed in the Gashora Reception Centre, in the district of Bugesera, which will be managed by local authorities under the supervision of UNHCR.

Persons eligible to benefit from the centre include refugees recognised by UNHCR Libya, asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR Libya, children and youth at risk registered as refugees as well as spouses and children of asylum-seekers and refugees. According to the tentative agreement, the mechanism is established to temporarily host evacuees for their stay in Rwanda, while durable solutions, including repatriation and resettlement, are being identified.

The agreement include the rights of the refugees such as access to medical care, school and work.

The agreement, however, did not fail to give rise to controversy. According to the New York Times, in fact, there is the European Union behind the agreement that, after having signed similar agreements with Turkey and Afghanistan, now uses the African Union as a partner to solve the problem of migrants in Libya without taking into account the respect for human rights.

Rwanda himself, in fact, has been called back several times by the EU for the lack of respect for human rights and, in turn, the government of Kagame is considered to be the cause of the number of refugees in the region. The same concerns apply to the agreements with Niger which, in the space of three years, should receive more than 3,000 migrants, but without any guarantee of protecting them from the network of traffickers who have their own operations centre in Niger.

The European Union, disturbed by domestic politics, which is seeing an increase in the consensus of political forces that exploit the issue of migrants for electoral purposes, is increasingly outsourcing – for a fee – the issue to third countries, where the minimum conditions for the respect of human rights are lacking.


by Christian Elia