The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday said it evacuated 172 vulnerable asylum-seekers from Libya to Niger.
“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, evacuated 172 vulnerable asylum-seekers out of Libya to safety in Niger on the evening of 4 November. It was the first evacuation flight to Niger in more than a year, after the Libyan authorities lifted a blanket ban on humanitarian flights,” UNHCR said in a statement.
Many of those evacuated had previously been detained in dire conditions, and were victims of trafficking or had experienced violence in Libya, the statement said.
“UNHCR is relieved to see the resumption of these life-saving evacuation flights. However, considering the limited number of places, evacuation can only be a solution for extremely vulnerable people, in urgent need of security and protection,” said Jean-Paul Cavalieri, UNHCR chief of mission in Libya.
The evacuation took place through the Emergency Transit Mechanism established in 2017 with the help of the Government of Niger, which agreed to temporarily receive on its territory refugees facing life-threatening situations in Libya, according to the statement.
So far, 3,361 refugees and asylum-seekers have been evacuated from Libya to Niger, of whom 3,213 have departed from Niger to third countries for resettlement.
Many illegal migrants, mostly Africans, choose to cross the Mediterranean Sea to European shores from Libya, due to the state of chaos that plagued the country since 2011.