TRIPOLI — The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Wednesday announced evacuating 130 asylum seekers from Libya to Rwanda.
“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has successfully evacuated a group of 130 vulnerable asylum seekers out of Libya to safety in Rwanda in the fourth and last evacuation flight in 2020. Next flights will resume in 2021,” UNHCR said in a statement.
The evacuated group includes men, women, and children from Eritrea, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, the statement said, adding that most of them were living in urban areas in the capital Tripoli, and many had previously been held in detention centers across the country.
Jean-Paul Cavalieri, UNHCR Chief of Mission in Libya, stressed the importance of the evacuations through the Evacuation Transit Mechanism (ETM) as a crucial lifeline for vulnerable refugees in Libya, urging the international community to make more efforts to provide greater support to these populations.
“For refugees in Libya, the COVID-19 pandemic has not only imposed restrictions that resulted in loss of livelihoods, food insecurity and lack of access to healthcare, but it also impacted access to legal pathways and solutions out of Libya, increasing despair among the most vulnerable. We urge receiving countries to provide further resettlement opportunities in order to help us move vulnerable asylum seekers out of harm’s way in Libya,” Cavalieri said.
A total of 811 vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers have been taken out of Libya this year, including 321 via resettlement, UNHCR revealed. The statement confirmed that a total of 44,725 refugees and asylum seekers are currently registered with UNHCR in Libya, of whom 329 are held in detention.
Thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly Africans, choose to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya toward European shores, due to the state of insecurity and chaos in the North African country following the fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.