UN says to evacuate thousands of refugees from Libya in 2018

2017-12-21 11:53
Migrants  (File: AFP)

Migrants (File: AFP)

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Tripoli - The UN refugee agency is to evacuate thousands of vulnerable refugees from Libya next year, its country representative said on Tuesday.

"In 2018, we will try to send between 5 000 and 10 000 of the most vulnerable refugees to third countries," Roberto Mignone said.

"We can't give an exact number as it will depend on how many refugees can be taken in by European countries, Canada or others," the UNHCR representative said.

Libya has long been a transit hub for migrants seeking a better life in Europe, but people smugglers have stepped up their lucrative business in the chaos since the 2011 revolution.

Libyan authorities have come under fire over migrant abuses since the airing last month of CNN footage of a slave market in the North African country.

The United Nations last week urgently appealed for countries to take in 1 300 "extremely vulnerable" refugees stranded in Libya.

'Very difficult' conditions 

Around 100 refugees have been evacuated to Niger since November and are awaiting resettlement there, Mignone said.

A first group of around 20 refugees arrived to settle in France on Monday.

A thousand refugees should be evacuated from Libya by the end of January.

The UNHCR has registered some 44 300 refugees in Libya, he said, but thousands of other migrants could also be eligible for refugee status.

People from Iraq, Syria, the Palestinian territories, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan's Darfur region, as well as Oromo Ethiopians, are automatically registered as refugees in Libya, Mignone said.

After being stopped by Libyan authorities, migrants who have entered the country illegally are usually taken to detention centres.

The UNHCR this year made 1 000 visits to around 30 overcrowded detention centres where migrants are detained in "very difficult" conditions, Mignone said.

Read more on:    un  |  libya  |  refugees  |  north africa

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