UNHCR evacuates over 300 detained refugees in Libya to safety

The United Nations refugee agency on Wednesday evacuated some 325 refugees from the Qaser Ben Gasheer detention centre in southern Tripoli amid deteriorating security and escalating violence.

UNICEF conducted the relocations in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Libyan authorities, as violence continues to hit the North African country.

“The dangers for refugees and migrants in Tripoli have never been greater than they are at present,” said Matthew Brook, UNHCR Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya. “It is vital that refugees in danger can be released and evacuated to safety.”

The refugees were transferred to the Azzawya detention centre, where they are at reduced risk of being caught up in the hostilities.

Wednesday’s relocation was the fourth since the recent escalation of the conflict in Libya.

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 over 200 people and wounded over 900 others.

Last week, the UNHCR estimated that over 3,000 refugees and migrants were 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.