UN agency evacuates more than 1,000 refugees from Libya over past three months
More than 1,000 highly vulnerable refugees have been evacuated out of Libya since November by the UN refugee agency, which is searching for “durable solutions” for these people in third countries.
The agency reported that the latest flights left the capital, Tripoli, this week, carrying 128 refugees to Niger on Tuesday while a second plane flew 150 others to Italy on Wednesday.
Overall, 1,084 refugees have been evacuated in the three months since the start of the operation and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is calling on more countries to provide resettlement places for those still in Libya.
“These evacuations have provided a new chance at life for more than 1,000 refugees who were detained in Libya and suffered tremendously. By the end of 2018, we hope to evacuate thousands more,” said Vincent Cochetel, the agency’s Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean.
UNHCR said the 128 refugees evacuated to Niger are being accommodated in guesthouses in the capital, Niamey, thanks to cooperation from its partners and support from the Government.
They will receive assistance and psychosocial support pending resettlement or other durable solutions.
A total of 770 refugees have been evacuated to the country since November, including single mothers, families and unaccompanied or separated children.
The 150 refugees flown to Rome included children and women who UNHCR said had been held captive for lengthy periods.
The flight marked the second evacuation from Libya to Italy “and could not have happened without the strong commitment of the Italian authorities and the support of the Libyan Government,” according to a statement by the UN agency.
So far, a total of 312 refugees have been evacuated directly to the European country.