Tripoli — THE United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has evacuated 74 vulnerable refugees from Libya to Niger. A vast majority of these are children and women, numbering 51 and 22 respectively.
Together with a man, they had been detained in the North African country that is at the centre of slave trade scandal. The refugees are of Eritrean and Somali nationality.
"Recently, they have been detained in Libya but they can now hope anew," said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR's Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation.
With the support of UNHCR's partners in Niger, the refugees will be accommodated in guesthouses in Niamey.
The youngsters will stay in centres for children, where assistance, psychosocial support and recreational activities will be made available.
Meanwhile, the first group of 25 refugees evacuated from Libya to Niger on November 11 is scheduled to depart for France before Christmas.
Last week, UNHCR launched an urgent appeal asking for 1 300 resettlement places to be made available for vulnerable refugees in Libya by the end of March 2018.
Cochetel said refugee evacuations could only be part of broader asylum-building and migration management efforts to address the complex movement of migrants and refugees along the Mediterranean routes.
"UNHCR is thankful for the support it receives from the European Commission (EU) to operationalize this life-saving evacuation mechanism," he said.
Libya is to deport 15 000 migrants before the end of the year as part of plans to address the auctioning of foreign nationals as slaves.