Refugees released from detention arrive at the Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli, Libya | Photo: UNHCR/Farah Harwida
Refugees released from detention arrive at the Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli, Libya | Photo: UNHCR/Farah Harwida

According to the UN refugee agency, the Gathering and Departure Facility in the capital of Libya is so overcrowded that it can no longer functions as a transit center for vulnerable migrants.

A massive influx of people has changed the role of the Tripoli Gathering and Departure Facility -- the only Libyan transit center for migrants that focuses on 'vulnerable' groups such as women and children in order for them to be sent to safe countries, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).  

The facilities are severely overcrowded and can thus no longer act as a transit center, ANSA was told by a spokesperson for the UNHCR. They reiterated what had already been announced by UNHCR in late November. 

No longer a transit center for vulnerable migrants

UNHCR Libya spokeswoman Caroline Gluck said that the severe overcrowding of the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) had had an impact on services. 

In a statement published in late November, UNHCR had reported that the center had "capacity for around 600 people, but currently hosts nearly double that figure -- many of whom have been there for several months." The situation, UNHCR said, is unsustainable and the GDF no longer acts as a transit center. 

Gluck told ANSA that the UNHCR hopes the GDF can return to its intended function of being transit facilities for people who have already been selected to be sent outside of Libya due to specific vulnerabilities. 

'We will maintain basic services' 

The center, which the people inside are free to leave at any moment, Gluck said, was opened a year ago, on December 4, 2018. 

She said that the UNHCR would maintain basic services but that they encourage the most people who arrived recently to accept the help that they can provide outside in the Community Day Centre (CDC). 

In the first week of December, about 50 "unofficial arrivals" at the GDF agreed to leave and accepted an urban assistance package that included cash, medical assistance, basic goods and appointments with UNHCR staff to discuss protection needs and solutions, Gluck said. 

She said that even if they left it would not mean that they could not be accepted for relocation. She cited the example of four people who had accepted the package and who in recent weeks were selected for humanitarian evacuation. 

For 2020, countries worldwide have thusfar only made resettlement places for 2,390 refugees located in Libya available. This number is clearly not enough, Carlotta Sami, UNHCR regional spokesperson for southern Europe, told ANSA. She said that only Italy accepts migrants and asylum seekers directly from Libya and argued that safer channels are clearly needed. 

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