KIGALI – Rwandan President Paul Kagame has called for sanctions against South Africa, including being suspended from the African Union, for not doing enough to stop xenophobic attacks.
The attacks, which have largely targeted citizens of other African countries, have left several people dead and a lot of property destroyed.
Speaking in Kigali at the weekend, Mr Kagame said the xenophobic attacks are against the spirit of African unity.
He said South Africa should be suspended from the African Union just like during the apartheid for allowing the attacks to continue.
“And when I hear my counterpart Ramaphoza say that the record of these recent attacks is 10 deaths, including only one foreigner, I think that we should temporarily set aside the RSA from all the bodies of the African Union and other subregional organizations, so that it can understand that Africa is called upon in this 21st century to be united and indivisible in the face of the challenges of globalization,” Mr Kagame told the Rwandan press.
He also announced the welcome of African immigrants stranded in Libya on his territory.
Rwanda government and UNHCR last week signed an agreement that will the East African country resettle the immigrants. The first groupof 500 people, including children and at-risk youth, predominantly from the Horn of Africa, will be evacuated in the coming weeks.
The sides signed a memorandum of understanding in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to set up a transit mechanism.
“Under the agreement, the government of Rwanda will receive and provide protection to refugees and asylum-seekers who are currently being held in detention centres in Libya,” UNHCR said in the statement.
They will be housed in a transit centre in Rwanda before being resettled elsewhere, unless they agree to return to their home countries if it is safe to do so.
According to the UN, some 4,700 refugees are currently in Libyan custody.
The agreement signed on Tuesday comes after repeated allegations of dire conditions for migrants in Libya’s detention centres, including routine abuse, lack of medical care and insufficient food.
“We have been desperately searching for solutions for those people,” said Cosmas Chanda, UNHCR’s representative to the AU, at a news conference in Addis Ababa, the seat of the pan-African body.
The Rwandan government is prepared to take in as many as 30,000 Africans from Libya, though the plan is for the process to unfold in batches of 500 people to prevent the country from becoming overwhelmed.