A group of 131 refugees were evacuated last night out of Libya to the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Niger, run by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
The evacuees were from Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan, and included 65 children under the age of eighteen. Some of the group were previously held in detention centres for more than a year.
“We cannot underestimate just how important these life-saving evacuations are,” said Jean-Paul Cavalieri, UNHCR Chief of Mission for Libya. “On World Refugee Day, for the first time in a long time, these refugees will be able to sleep at night knowing they and their families are out of harm’s way. But more needs to be done. States urgently need to come forward to help us evacuate other vulnerable refugees out of Libya.”
Prior to the evacuation, the group were being hosted in UNHCR’s Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli (GDF), after UNHCR secured their release from different detention centres across the country. UNHCR is grateful for the support of the Libyan Ministry of Interior and our partner, LibAid, for their support with securing their release and transfer out of the detention centres.
At the GDF, UNHCR provided them with food, shelter, medical assistance including psycho-social support, as well as clothes and hygiene kits.
They will now receive humanitarian assistance at the ETM while further options for them, such as resettlement, are pursued.
With this evacuation, UNHCR has assisted 1,297 vulnerable refugees out of Libya in 2019, including 711 to Niger, 295 to Italy, and 291 who have been resettled to Europe and Canada.
However, the rising numbers of people being brought to detention centres after being rescued and intercepted on the Central Mediterranean means many more places are urgently needed.
With the conflict in Tripoli showing no sign of diminishing, more than 3,800 refugees and migrants held in detention centres remain at risk of being caught up in the clashes.
UNHCR reiterates its call to the Libyan authorities to release all refugees and asylum-seekers and close the detention centres.