Tunis, Jan 30 : In its first evacuations to Niger this year, the UN refugee agency has flown 130 people to Niamey from Libya, where they were held for months in detention centres in “very dire” conditions, the UN said on Tuesday.
“Those evacuated today exemplify once again the urgency of ending detention of refugees and migrants in Libya,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean.
“Until that happens, evacuations will remain quite literally a life-line,” Cochetel said.
People evacuated to Niger are hosted at UNHCR’s Emergency Transit Mechanism in Niamey until they can be resettled, UNHCR said, appealing to countries to speed up their procedures to make available more place.
UNHCR said it has evacuated 3,016 people from turmoil-wracked Libya since December 2017 and has received a total 39,698 crucial places for vulnerable refugees in the 15 countries along the Central Mediterranean route in response to its call for 40,000 resettlement places.
Besides the evacuations to Niger, a total 93 refugees from Syria, Sudan and Eritrea have been flown from Tripoli to Timisoara, in western Romania, this year, with logistical help from the International Organisation for Migration, according to the UN.