TRIPOLI — The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Wednesday it provided more than 2,200 refugees with food packages this week.
The food packages were distributed to refugees and asylum-seekers in the western cities of Zawiya, Misurata and Zwara, as part of UNHCR’s food assistance program with the World Food Program, it said in a statement.
The commissioner said that the joint program, supported by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, is expanding as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Libya.
“Coronavirus-related movement restrictions and curfews have made it difficult for people to find daily work, while food prices have also sharply risen, making it hard for families to feed themselves,” the statement said. The UNHCR also said that the distribution is being scaled up to target 10,000 vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers in Libya.
On Wednesday, the reception center of the Libyan anti-illegal immigration department in Tripoli called on international organizations to provide humanitarian relief to the illegal immigrants there.
“Libya is not a safe country to return refugees to,” the UNHCR has previously reiterated.
Following the 2011 fall of former leader Gaddafi’s government, Libya has been plagued by a state of insecurity and chaos that prompts thousands of illegal migrants to attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea towards Europe. Many illegal immigrants, who were either rescued at sea or arrested by authorities, remain detained in overcrowded reception centers in Libya, despite repeated international calls to close those centers.