A Somali couple and their one-year-old son ride a bus to the airport in Tripoli, Libya for an evacuation flight to Italy. © UNHCR/Mohamed Alalem
A group of 98 vulnerable refugees have been today evacuated out of Libya to Italy, the third direct humanitarian evacuation to the country this year.
With Libya continuing to suffer under conflict, such evacuations are a lifeline for the most vulnerable refugees living in detention centres and urban areas, who are in dire need of safety and protection,
The evacuees are from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, and include 52 unaccompanied children. The youngest is Yousef, a seven-month-old baby from Somalia, born in detention and traveling with his parents. Many of the refugees had been held in detention in Libya for long periods, some for more than eight months.
“Today we have taken 98 people to safety, but this is still only a small number of the thousands who need such help. There are still some 3,600 refugees in detention centres. We urgently need to find solutions for them, as well as thousands more vulnerable refugees living in urban areas,” said Jean-Paul Cavalieri, UNHCR Chief of Mission for Libya.
UNHCR is grateful for the co-operation of the Libyan Ministry of Interior, and for the support of our partner LibAid, for their assistance with securing their release and transfer out of the detention centres.
“Today’s evacuation is an example of solidarity, and we thank the Italian authorities for making this possible. We hope that other countries will heed this example and provide similar, life-saving humanitarian evacuations,” said Roland Schilling, UNHCR Regional Representative for Southern Europe.
Prior to the evacuation, the refugees were being hosted in the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli, after UNHCR had secured their transfer from detention. In the GDF, they were provided with food, shelter, medical assistance including psycho-social support, as well as clothes and hygiene kits.
Following this evacuation, UNHCR has assisted 1,474 vulnerable refugees with leaving Libya in 2019, including 710 to Niger, 393 to Italy, and 371 who have been resettled to other countries in Europe and Canada.
For more information on this topic, please contact:
In Italy, Carlotta Sami, email@example.com, +39 335 679 4746
In Tripoli, Paula Barrachina, +218 91 001 7553, firstname.lastname@example.org
In Tunis, Tarik Argaz, +216 29 9612 95, email@example.com
In Geneva, Charlie Yaxley, firstname.lastname@example.org, +41 795 808 702