Tripoli — MORE than 120 extremely vulnerable refugees, mostly women and children, have been evacuated from Libya where they had been held in detention.
Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR), facilitated the evacuation of the migrants, who have been evacuated to the neighbouring Niger to the south.
After further processing in Niger, the 122 refugees previously at the Triq Al Sika Detention Centre in the Libyan capital Tripoli will be transferred to participating third countries offering asylum.
Niger is offering UNHCR a transit facility.
Grandi reiterated his call on the international community to make 40 000 places available for refugees in Libya and from 14 other countries along the Central Mediterranean route.
He commended countries for committing 25 000 places, but expressed concern that less than 2 000 refugees have been resettled so far.
"Unfortunately, implementation of these offers is very slow," Grandi said.
During his mission to Libya, authorities allowed UNHCR access to 6 000 people held in government-run detention facilities.
Most are illegally in the North African country after failed moves to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.
Desperate refugees and migrants continue paying ruthless smugglers for hazardous boat trips for greener pastures.
Many have fallen victim to torture, rape or human slavery by criminal gangs along the dangerous route.
The migrant crisis is exacerbating the strife in the North African country that is unstable following the ouster and subsequent murder of then-president Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The European Union (EU) last week slapped six human traffickers and smugglers operating in Libya with travel bans and an asset freezes.