In light of current insecurity in Libya's capital, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today relocated more than 150 refugees from the Ain Zara detention centre in south Tripoli to UNHCR's Gathering and Departure Facility in a nearby safe zone.
The Ain Zara detention centre had been impacted by heavy clashes for the past few days. Refugees told UNHCR that they were frightened and worried about their safety, given ongoing fighting in the vicinity, and that they were left with minimal supplies.
UNHCR has received reports of similar situations at other detention centres and is currently looking into these claims.
Today's relocation of detained refugees and migrants is the first by UNHCR since the recent escalation.
UNHCR is working closely with the authorities and partners to secure additional relocations of vulnerable people from detention centres.
"Many refugees and migrants in Libya endure terrible depravations. They are now at grave additional risk, and must not be overlooked in the effort to get all civilians out of harm's way and to places where they are safer," said UNHCR's Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya, Matthew Brook.
Since the clashes erupted in Libya's capital, more than 3,400 Libyans have been displaced by the fighting with many others trapped in the crossfire, unable to flee for safety.
UNHCR joins the humanitarian community in urging respect for international legal obligations to ensure the safety of all civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to allow full, safe, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access to affected areas.
As part of its emergency response to the current violence, UNHCR has also pre-positioned aid in key locations in Tripoli and Misrata, strengthening its hotline services and ensuring the continuity of its assistance programs for refugees and displaced Libyans in urban settings.
UNHCR reiterates its view that conditions in Libya are not safe for rescued or intercepted refugees and migrants, and that these people must not be returned there.