Rwanda Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo has—contrary to earlier government pronouncements—now admitted that her government will indeed take in Africans expelled from Israel—as long as the process is “in line with international law.”
The announcement—made in the Kenyan East African news, confirms that Israel has concluded an agreement with the Rwandese government after all, and that once all the minor legal obstacles inside Israel are finalized, the deportations will most likely become a reality.
According to the report, Mushikiwabo “affirmed that Kigali would accept the refugees and asylum seekers as long as the process of relocating them was in line with international laws.”
“We have told the state of Israel that our country as part of its policy is ready to receive any African migrant that would be leaving Israel in the context of international law,” she said.
“We have also agreed that we will provide as a country the basics that we provide to our own citizens. It is the same for refugees and other foreign nationals coming to Rwanda. We have yet to get a number of those migrants to arrive here in Rwanda but we are ready, we have been ready,” Mushikiwabo added.
Mushikiwabo said the same policy is being applied for the Africans currently in Libya “under extremely horrendous conditions including being sold on markets and being mistreated”.
“On the migrants in Libya we are still waiting to reach an agreement within the context of the African Union which is corroborating with international organisations on migrations to figure out which type of migrants and their identifications, the numbers that would be coming to Rwanda but that would be in the next several weeks,” she said.
Rwanda has offered to take in at least 30,000 Africans stranded in Libya as well as African “asylum seekers” in Israel.
The report added that the “open door” policy came under scrutiny last month after 11 Congolese “refugees” in Kiziba camp in western Rwanda were shot dead by police during a food protest.
More than 17,000 “refugees” have been protesting against a 25 per cent cut in food rations since January by the UN World Food Program as a result of underfunding.
Mushikiwabo said the Congolese, who have been in Rwanda for more than 22 years, have “complex demands and have resorted to using violence, even against security forces, to resolve existing challenges.”
“We have had cases, which are at the heart of the revolt in the refugee camp, of individuals who have actually applied for a national Rwandan identity card and want to go back and request for a refugee card and at the same time want to go home to the DRC,” she said.
She claimed those who led the revolt were angling for relocation to Western countries under existing resettlement programs but at the same time seeking Rwanda citizenship.
“The revolt has to do with the fact that actually some of them are young and they became extremely violent, attacking the law enforcement agents, trying to hold hostages and our law enforcement agency was not prepared for that kind of violence,” she said.
She, however, said the government would facilitate anyone wanting to be repatriated but would not allow anyone to go home with a Rwandan national ID and at the same time wanting to be resettled in the United States or Europe.
On the influx of over 2,500 Burundi refugees last week, the government said it is yet to figure out how to deal with the group because of their “strange religious beliefs”.
The refugees said they left DR Congo for fear of repatriation. They claimed they fled Burundi due to religious persecution.
Ms Mushikiwabo said the refugees, who belong to a Catholic sect, have refused biometric registration and vaccination or modern medicine, a situation that Rwanda’s policies and laws won’t allow.
“It is something we are trying to figure out, how to deal with this group,” she said.