122 migrants in Libya sent to Niger with the assistance of UN High Commissioner for Refugees
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi boarded a chartered flight Tuesday 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 and resettlement 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 Sika Detention Centre in Tripoli, where they had spent months in overcrowded spaces.
Grandi thanked the Libyan authorities for allowing UNHCR access to 6,000 people held in government-run detention facilities.
“This access allows UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to identify and evacuate persons in need of international protection and improve conditions, which he said had gotten better since his last visit over one year ago but were still “appalling”. He said.
He noted UNHCR and the Libyan Ministry of Interior will soon open a new Gathering and Departure Centre, which will accommodate up to 1,000 vulnerable refugees in a dignified environment while their cases are processed for evacuations or direct resettlement to 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.
“Unfortunately, implementation of these offers is very slow,” Grandi said, appealing to resettlement countries to accelerate their procedures directly from Libya and from the transit facility in Niger.