The UNHCR announced the evacuation of the first group of refugees, hosted in new departure facilities, from Libya to Niger last week.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) evacuated 133 refugees from Libya to Niger last week in cooperation with the Libyan authorities. Prior to their departure, the refugees had been staying at the new Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli.
The facility was inaugurated on Tuesday, December 4. Most of the displaced, including 81 women and children, were previously detained within Libya. After being released from five detention centers across Libya — in Tripoli and in areas up to 180 km distant from the capital — the migrants were housed at the new center until an agreement regarding their evacuation had been reached.
First center of this type in Libya
The UNHCR explained in a statement that the GDF is the first center of its kind in Libya and aims to accommodate vulnerable refugees in a safe environment until solutions are reached. Possible solutions for these groups include the resettlement of refugees, family unification, evacuation to emergency structures in other countries, the return to a previous country of asylum and voluntary repatriation.
''The opening of this center, under very difficult circumstances, has the potential to save human lives. It offers protection and immediate security to vulnerable refugees that need urgent evacuation, and is an alternative to detention for hundreds of refugees currently trapped in Libya,'' said the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.
The center is managed by the Libyan Interior Minister, UNHCR and LibAid, a partner of the UN agency.
New structure supported by the EU
With some 4,900 refugees and migrants being held at detention centers across Libya, including 3,600 in need of international protection, the center is ''a fundamental alternative to detention for the most vulnerable,'' stressed the UNHCR in a statement.
The structure’s creation was supported by the EU and other donors. The center can host up to 1,000 vulnerable refugees and is then able to offer them solutions outside of Libya. UNHCR and its partners at the GDF provide humanitarian assistance, lodging, food, medical care and psychological and social support to the migrants. There are also areas specially designed for children.