UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, evacuated 130 people out of Libya last week, marking the first evacuations to Niger in 2019.
The individuals evacuated had been detained in very dire conditions, and for months on end. UNHCR advocated for them to be released, and transferred them to the Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli, which opened last December, while their processing for solutions outside Libya was being completed.
“Those evacuated today exemplify once again the urgency of ending detention of refugees and migrants in Libya,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean. “Until that happens, evacuations will remain quite literally a life-line.”
All persons evacuated to Niger are hosted at UNHCR’s Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Niamey until they can be resettled. The completion of the first evacuation in 2019 brings the total number of people evacuated from Libya by UNHCR to 3,016 since December 2017.
In addition to evacuations to Niger, 93 refugees from Syria, Sudan and Eritrea have departed from Tripoli to Timisoara, in western Romania, this year. They will spend a few weeks at UNHCR’s Emergency Transit Facility before flying onwards to a resettlement country. Our sister agency IOM, the UN Migration Agency, assisted in travel logistics.
Following the High Commissioner’s call for 40,000 resettlement places to be made available for the Central Mediterranean situation, UNHCR has received a total of 39,698 places for vulnerable refugees in the 15 countries along the Central Mediterranean route.
The efforts of resettlement countries in coming forward with offers of places for those trapped in Libya are crucial. However, with more resettlement places needed, and many more in Libya requiring urgent evacuation, UNHCR appeals to resettlement countries to speed their procedures for further places to become available.