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159 Eritrean Asylum-Seekers Get Access to Safety After Months in Detention in Libya

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TRIPOLI, Libya, February 15, 2019/ — UNHCR, the UN Refugee agency, evacuated yesterday 159 Eritrean asylum-seekers from Tripoli airport to the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Niamey, continuing its commitment to offer protection to the most vulnerable. 

Released from different detention centres across the country, most of them extremely overcrowded and lacking basic standards, asylum-seekers were transported to UNHCR’s Gathering and Departure Facility earlier this week, where they had access to food, sanitation, psychosocial support, and medical attention. 

After processing their cases and issuing the proper documentation to allow them to travel, they boarded a plane at Mitiga Airport in Tripoli towards Niamey, where they were hosted at UNHCR’s ETM (Emergency Transit Mechanism). 

“After 4 years in Libya languishing in traffickers’ hangars first, and then in detention centres, I felt the most precious years of my life were lost, but my prayers were finally answered and my life starts again today”, said Angusum, a young Eritrean man who have long left his country fleeing persecution. 

In Libya, 6,205 migrants and refugees are still detained, of whom 4,327 are of concern to UNHCR. UNHCR advocates tirelessly for their release and calls the international community to advocate for and support measures to put an end to detention while in parallel providing solutions for persons trapped in Libya, in addition to supporting the non- return of asylum-seekers and refugees to Libya. 

Life-saving evacuation of vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers from Libya has reached 3175 persons, having evacuated 2491 persons to Niger, 415 to Italy, and 269 to Romania. 

UNHCR reiterates its gratitude to the governments of Libya and Niger for this extraordinary cooperation with UNHCR that enables the evacuations to happen, lives to be saved and durable solutions to be found. 

The European Union Trust Fund for North Africa (EUTF) continues to be a fundamental support to the evacuations out of Libya, offering the most vulnerable a life-changing opportunity to access safety. 

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