COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway says it will take 600 asylum seekers recently evacuated to Rwanda from Libyan detention centers as the Scandinavian country wants to stop the sometimes deadly smuggling of migrants across the Mediterranean Sea.
“For me it is important to send a signal that we will not back smuggling routes and cynical backers, but instead bring in people with protection needs in organized form,” Justice and Immigration Minister Joaran Kallmyr said in a statement emailed Thursday to The Associated Press.
“Therefore, the government has decided to collect 600 quota refugees from Libya, out of 800 in total, from the transit reception in Rwanda in 2020,” he added. Many of the asylum seekers are from Horn of Africa nations.
Since the 2015 massive influx of migrants to Europe authorities, especially the European Union, have been trying to stop refugees and other migrants from crossing the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe. Thousands of people have died at sea. Many set off from Libya’s coast.
As part of an agreement signed between Rwanda, the African Union and the United Nations refugee agency in September, the East African country hosts a camp for people who have been evacuated from often chaotic, overcrowded detention centers in Libya.
Some 800 are currently staying at an emergency transit center in Rwanda’s Bugesera district.
So far Norway and Sweden have offered to take some of them, according to Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta, who said Wednesday that Sweden has already taken in seven.