UNHCR seeks 1,300 urgent resettlement places for refugees in Libya

Refugees and migrants sleep on the floor at a detention facility in Tripoli, Libya. [Photo: UNHCR]

Refugees and migrants sleep on the floor at a detention facility in Tripoli, Libya.
[Photo: UNHCR]
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Monday launched an urgent appeal for 1,300 resettlement places to be made available by the end of March 2018, meant for highly vulnerable refugees stranded in Libya.

“This is a desperate call for solidarity and humanity. We need to get extremely vulnerable refugees out of Libya as soon as possible,” UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk said.

The agency said it was strongly opposed to the routine detention of refugees and displaced people.

It said it would continue advocating for alternatives to detention and for fair asylum systems.

UNHCR officials said the agency was organizing more life-saving refugee evacuations to Niger.

“Given the imminent humanitarian needs and the rapidly deteriorating conditions in detention centres in Libya, UNHCR is actively working to organize more life-saving refugee evacuations to Niger in the coming weeks and months,” Turk said.

A first group of 25 refugees of Eritrean, Ethiopian and Sudanese nationalities were evacuated from Libya to Niger last month.

Vulnerable refugees are to be evacuated to Niger, and hopefully other emergency transit mechanisms pending their resettlement to other countries.

They include unaccompanied children, single female parents, women at risk, people with serious medical conditions as well as people who have been severely tortured or ill-treated during their journey or in detention in Libya.

Libya has come under sharp scrutiny since last month following an exposure by CNN that brought slave auctions to light.

Following that report, images of migrants undergoing torture and being held in an inhumane manner surfaced, with World leaders condemning the happenings.

A European Union – African Union Summit in Abidjan late last month resolved to have various countries evacuate their citizens that were stranded in Libya. The evacuations are on-going.