UNHCR evacuates refugees in Libya to Niger amid Tripoli fighting

The United Nations refugee agency on Friday said it has evacuated some 163 refugees from Libya to Niger in the first such flight since fighting erupted in Tripoli two weeks ago.

The UNHCR said those evacuated include dozens of women and children who had previously been detained in centers close to the war zone.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said he was extremely concerned about the safety of refugees and migrants who are trapped inside detention centers.

“Given the situation in Libya, humanitarian evacuations are a life-line for detained refugees whose lives are in jeopardy in Libya,” he said.

He praised Niger for accepting the refugees, urging other nations to emulate the move in order to save the thousands of refugees trapped inside Libya.

“Niger’s solidarity in receiving these refugees is world-leading and exemplary, but it cannot do this alone. There must be shared responsibility and we need other countries to come forward to lend a hand and help bring vulnerable refugees out of Libya to safety.

“UNHCR continues to urge resettlement states to ensure quick departures of refugees accepted for resettlement from Niger in order to free up space for new evacuees from Tripoli.”

The UNHCR estimates that some over 3,000 refugees and migrants are trapped in detention centers close to the war zone. It appealed to the international community to provide solutions, including evacuations and creating humanitarian corridors to allow refugees find safety abroad.

The fighting in Libya has pit strongman Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army, against the UN-backed government in a bid to take control of Tripoli.

According to the United Nations, the fighting has killed at least 205 people and wounded over 900 others.