UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, launched today (December 11, 2017) an urgent appeal calling for 1,300 resettlement places to be made available by the end of March 2018 for highly vulnerable refugees stranded in Libya.
"This is a desperate call for solidarity and humanity. We need to get extremely vulnerable refugees out of Libya as soon as possible," said Volker Türk, UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection.
"Many refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons in Libya are victims of serious violations of human rights, including different forms of inhumane, cruel and degrading treatment," says UNHCR's Flash appeal*, which also notes that a large number of them are detained for an indefinite period of time in deplorable conditions.
As the refugee protection agency, UNHCR is strongly opposed to the routine detention of refugees and displaced people, and continuously advocates for alternatives to detention and for fair asylum systems.
"Given the imminent humanitarian needs and the rapidly deteriorating conditions in detention centres in Libya, UNHCR is actively working to organize more life-saving refugee evacuations to Niger in the coming weeks and months," said Turk. A first group of 25 refugees of Eritrean, Ethiopian and Sudanese nationalities were evacuated from Libya to Niger last month.
Vulnerable refugees are to be evacuated to Niger and hopefully other emergency transit mechanisms pending their resettlement to other countries. They include unaccompanied children, single female parents, women at risk, people with serious medical conditions as well as people who have been severely tortured or ill-treated during their journey or in detention in Libya.
"In view of the current critical humanitarian situation in Libya and the appalling conditions in detention centres, UNHCR once again calls upon the solidarity of the international community," said Turk.
"Given the seriousness of the situation for refugees in Libya, we need to explore all sorts of solutions, including resettlement, family reunification, evacuation to UNHCR-run emergency facilities in other countries, or voluntary return," he added.
*UNHCR's Resettlement Flash Appeal for Libya is available here