Libya made headlines back in 2017. An investigative journalist depicted the inhumane life of refugees from the Horn of Africa who were entrapped in Libya having hopes of sailing across the Mediterranean onwards to Europe.
That was when African Union leaders, then chaired by Paul Kagame decided to fashion a protective, lifesaving and durable solution for these refugees. Rwanda agreed to host these refugees on a temporary basis before they could be relocated to other countries.
It was in this context that the Gashora Emergency Transit Mechanism was set up as an agreement between the Rwandan government, the UNHCR and the African Union. This camp at the moment has 457 refugees while previously 628 of them had been relocated to countries like France, Canada and Sweden.
Among these refugees, there are persons of concern (POC) who have been mentally affected by the trials and tribulations of refugee life and they are in a better position now as a result of intervention by the Rwandan Government. They now are healthier, relaxed and happy.
They get free accommodation, daily meals as well as a supply of domestic materials. Each PoC is provided with Rwf 50,000 per month as a part of their living allowance. All through the camp, they have the necessary infrastructure that allows them to get a firm grip and deal with mental health issues, which were badly affected by the time they were in Libya.
There is an occupational therapy centre which the women often frequent to learn livelihood skills like traditional material weaving, as well as hairdressing. This allows them to occupy their mind and divert it from the hard times they had in Libya.
There are also groups of boys and girls who play guitar, piano and even sing, all a part of the efforts to get their mental health on level ground. Further into the camp, there is also a driving school for those who want to learn how to drive. This school has already trained 160 individuals.
Alongside all these activities, there is an ICT centre as well as a school where the inmates of the camp learn English. The health facility in the camp offers free medical services and for a break, the residents can also indulge in a game of basketball.
Aisha Abdullah who is a mother of two says that she is thankful to the government of Rwanda for giving her a peaceful environment compared to the violence and uncertainty of life she experienced earlier.
Her friend Zemen Fesaha says in Libya, life was difficult and horrible; the movement was limited with many people being tortured in camps. There is no comparison between Libya and now, because in the former it was a question of day-to-day survival.
Zemen wants to become a social worker so that he can help refugees like himself. He requests the government of Rwanda to evacuate more refugees to spare them the horror.