United Nations refugee agency withdraws refugees from Libya after seven months of suspension On October 16, local time, UNHCR spokesman Mahsic said in Geneva that 153 refugees and asylum-seekers were evacuated from Libya on a chartered flight on the evening of the 15th to the emergency transit mechanism center in Niger, marking the departure of UNHCR from Libya. The evacuated flights resumed after a suspension of seven months.
Mahcic pointed out that due to the impact of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, flights were forced to be suspended in March, and air traffic in many countries was almost interrupted. The successful restart of the evacuation flight shows that through the joint efforts of all parties and strict compliance with the epidemic prevention regulations, it is possible to implement evacuation from Libya while ensuring safety.
The evacuees came from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, including 16 families and 15 minors under the age of 18. Most of these minors were unaccompanied or separated from their families. Before they evacuated, they all received a new coronavirus test and the results were negative, and participated in epidemic prevention training. After arriving in Niger, the evacuated persons are undergoing a two-week quarantine and will be further tested according to the epidemic prevention and control measures.
Mahcic said that there are 45,661 refugees and asylum seekers in Libya registered by the UN refugee agency, most of whom live in Tripoli, the capital of Libya. Among them, about 97% were arbitrarily detained, and some were detained for more than two years under extremely harsh conditions. They appealed and negotiated with the Libyan government through the UN refugee agency and were recently released. It is estimated that more than 3,400 refugees and asylum-seekers are still being held in various detention centers managed by the Libyan government. The environment is very harsh and many people are at risk of abuse.
Mahcic also said that in view of the current turmoil in Libya and the increasing number of people infected with the new crown virus, the socio-economic shock brought by the epidemic has severely affected refugees and asylum-seekers, making it increasingly difficult to maintain themselves and their families. It is especially important to resume evacuation flights during the phase. The United Nations Refugee Agency welcomed the release of some personnel by the Libyan government and the escalation of flights. At the same time, it once again called for the release of all detained asylum seekers and an end to arbitrary detention.
Since the emergency transit mechanism center in Niger was launched in 2017, the UN refugee agency has evacuated 3,165 vulnerable asylum seekers from Libya. Refugees receive humanitarian assistance in housing, food, medical care and daily life, while waiting for permanent solutions such as resettlement.
The UN refugee agency continues to call on governments to provide more resettlement sites and other sustainable solutions to enable more vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers to leave Libya.