To mark World Refugees Day, a group of 131 refugees were evacuated Wednesday night out of Libya to the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Niger, run by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
“For the first time in a long time, these refugees will be able to sleep at night knowing they and their families are out of harm’s way,” Jean-Paul Cavalieri, UNHCR Chief of Mission for Libya said.
He insisted that more needs to be done to help refugees as every person has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge, having fled violence, persecution, war or disaster at home.
“States urgently need to come forward to help us evacuate other vulnerable refugees out of Libya,” he added.
The group was being hosted in UNHCR’s Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli (GDF) prior to the evacuation after which UNHCR secured their release from different detention centres across the country.
According to UNHCR’s official Twitter page, over 1,000 people have been evacuated out of Libya since the beginning of the year.
At the GDF, UNHCR provided them with food, shelter, medical assistance including psycho-social support, as well as clothes and hygiene kits.
With this evacuation, UNHCR has assisted 1,297 vulnerable refugees out of Libya in 2019, including 711 to Niger, 295 to Italy, and 291 who have been resettled to Europe and Canada.
With the conflict in Tripoli showing no sign of diminishing, more than 3,800 refugees and migrants held in detention centres remain at risk of being caught up in the clashes.
The evacuees from this operation were from Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan, and included 65 children under the age of eighteen. Some of the group were previously held in detention centres for more than a year.