Moscow: The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has resumed evacuation flights to carry vulnerable asylum seekers out of Libya after a seven-month suspension, as 153 refugees from other African countries were transported to Niger, agency representative Andrej Mahecic said on Friday.
“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency evacuated last night a group of 153 vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers out of Libya to the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Niger,” Mahecic was quoted as saying in a UNHCR press release following a media briefing in Geneva.
The evacuated refugees were nationals of Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia, and the vast majority of them were being held in detention centers in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, UNHCR said.
UNHCR suspended its evacuation flights from Libya back in March with the onset of the coronavirus disease pandemic. Mahecic said that it was vital to resume the flights given the unstable political situation in the North African country and the rapid rise in new COVID-19 cases. On Thursday, 855 new cases of the disease were registered in Libya.
As many as 45,661 refugees and asylum seekers were believed to be residing in Libya as of September 30, according to data published by UNHCR.