Vulnerable refugees evacuated from Libya during UN Refugee Chief visit ahead of World Refugee Day
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi boarded a flight on 19 June bound for Niger with 122 refugees, mostly women and children, on board.
The refugees, who had been held in detention in the Libyan capital, were identified by UNHCR as extremely vulnerable and qualifying for evacuation under a new international programme. After further processing in Niger, the refugees will be transferred to participating third countries offering asylum. Earlier in the day, Grandi visited the group of evacuees as they were preparing to leave the Triq Al Sikka Detention Centre in Tripoli.
"Wars, violence, and persecution are pushing more people to leave their homes and made the number of forcibly displaced around the world to exceed 68 Million people," said Mr. Grandi. "Now, more than ever, taking care of refugees must be a global and shared responsibility. It's time to do things differently," he added.
During his visit, Grandi thanked the Libyan authorities for allowing UNHCR access persons of concern held in detention, which allows UNHCR to identify and evacuate most vulnerable persons in need of international protection. He noted UNHCR and the Libyan Ministry of Interior will soon open a new Gathering and Departure Facilty which will accommodate up to 1,000 vulnerable refugees in a dignified environment while their cases are processed for solutions in third countries.
Grandi reiterated his call on the international community to make 40,000 places available for refugees in Libya and from 14 other countries along the Central Mediterranean route. He commended countries for committing 25,000 places, but expressed his disappointment that less than 2,000 refugees have been resettled so far.
On a visit to the Naval Base where rescued or intercepted refugees and migrants are disembarked, Grandi tossed a bouquet of flowers into the water to honour the memory of the lives lost at sea. He stressed the good cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard.
During the visit, the High Commissioner also met with members of the 370 internally displaced Libyan families from the city of Tawergha who found refuge in the Triq Al Matar settlement on the outskirts of Tripoli seven years ago. He noted the importance of supporting displaced persons and of bringing their situation to the attention of the international community. UNHCR recalls the imperative to ensure that any return takes place in conditions of safety dignity and voluntariness.
While displacement continues, UNHCR will continue to work closely with authorities and other humanitarian organisations to provide assistance to internally displaced persons around the country.