Evacuees from Libya – Emergency Transit Mechanism

How does the evacuation process work?  

Evacuations start in Libya where UNHCR staff identify vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees in need of international protection. Many of these individuals have been housed in detention centres and experienced trauma, violence, and abuse. UNHCR staff screen the individuals to see if they would be eligible to be evacuated to the ETM and counsel them as to the process to ensure their voluntary agreement. Information is then shared with UNHCR Rwanda and lists for evacuation are established based on vulnerability. 

How many people are in the ETM and where do they come from? 

Between September 2019 and February 2024, over 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers were evacuated from  Libya to the ETM in Rwanda through 17 evacuation flights. The refugees and asylum seekers consist of mainly Eritrean, Somali, Sudanese, Ethiopian, South-Sudanese, Cameroon, Nigerian and Chadian nationalities. Over 1,500 refugees have subsequently been resettled to third countries. 

Emergency Interventions 

Once voluntarily evacuated from Libya to Rwanda, refugees and asylum seekers are provided with a range of services and support by UNHCR and our implementing partners. This includes an initial health screening, the provision of three meals a day, allocation of shelter, the availability of primary health care 24 hours a day, and referrals for secondary and tertiary health care to local hospitals if needed. Individuals at the ETM also receive monthly cash-assistance to help them meet their basic needs and buy groceries and other household items from the local market. 

Over 70% of asylum seekers and refugees evacuated from Libya have been identified with psychological distress and PTSD. As a result, UNHCR and partners offer regular psychosocial counselling and therapy.  

In addition, to prepare refugees for life after leaving the ETM, UNHCR and partners organize a range of activities and skills based trainings to further their development and help them to regain their dignity. These include language literacy classes, computer classes, driving lessons, barbershop and hair dressing skills, financial literacy programmes, and other skill developing trainings. 

Case Processing for Durable Solutions 

Once in the ETM centre, the UNHCR conducts registration/verification of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as refugee status determination (while unaccompanied children undergo Best Interest Determination assessments), and durable solutions assessments.  

After these case processing procedures, refugees are submitted for from resettlement to third countries. Options to return home or integrate in Rwanda are also available, although no refugees have yet engaged with these solutions.  

As of February 2024, over 1,500 refugees from the ETM centre have been resettled to Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and USA.