The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said it has evacuated 177 asylum-seekers from Libya to Niger.
“In the last evacuation flight of the year out of Libya, UNHCR has brought 177 vulnerable asylum seekers to safety in Niger. It is the second evacuation flight to Niger this year, since the Libyan authorities lifted a blanket ban on humanitarian flights in October,” the agency said in a statement.
This is the 30th evacuation flight to Niger organised since the Emergency Transit Mechanism was established, Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.
The mechanism was established in 2017 by the government of Niger, which agreed to temporarily receive on its territory asylum seekers and refugees facing a life-threatening situation in Libya, the UNHCR said.
So far, a total of 3,710 refugees and asylum seekers have been evacuated from Libya to Niger, of whom 3,255 have departed to third countries on resettlement or complementary pathways.
“These life-saving flights bring hope of a better future for some of the most vulnerable people urgently seeking security and protection”, said Jean-Paul Cavalieri, the UNHCR chief of mission for Libya.
Those evacuated to Niger include families and young children. Some have just been released from detention, while others have been living in urban areas. Many are victims of smuggling or trafficking and have experienced violence in Libya, the statement revealed.
Many illegal migrants, mostly from Africa, chose to cross the Mediterranean Sea to European shores from Libya due to the state of chaos that has plagued the country since 2011.