Mohamed Bade, 43, says he and his family fled the war in Syria only to face a similarly dire situation in Libya. He and his wife, Eied, and their three children -from left to right, Abdulrahman, Rania and Cedra - were evacuated to Italy. UNHCR/Mohamed Alalem
146 refugees were evacuated today from Libya to Italy in a joint operation between UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and Italian and Libyan authorities. Italy is the first country to have stepped forward to receive evacuees from Libya since the recent violence began. The evacuation was carried out in collaboration with the Libyan Ministry of Interior.
The group, including 46 children separated from their families, landed in Rome from Libya's Misrata airport earlier today, and will be hosted in emergency accommodation centres.
"This evacuation is a vital lifeline for people who faced serious threats and dangers inside Libya," said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "It's now crucial that other States match this gesture and offer similar evacuation places for refugees caught up in the conflict. Turning a blind eye will have real and tragic consequences."
The security situation inside Tripoli continues to worsen as rival forces engage in battles across the city. In recent days, airstrikes have claimed the lives of civilians and destroyed community infrastructure.
Thousands of refugees and migrants continue to be held in detention centres, where even prior to the recent clashes they faced dire and squalid conditions. People report being in fear for their lives and can hear gunshots and airstrikes nearby. They are at risk of being abandoned or caught up in the conflict should the fighting spread to their locations.
UNHCR is urging the international community to evacuate all refugees who remain inside detention centres in Tripoli and to bring them to safety. With clashes appearing set to continue, time is of the essence.
More than 3,300 people are particularly at risk inside detention centres close to imminent or ongoing clashes. UNHCR has been evacuating refugees and migrants away from immediate danger, including 500 to our Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli and 163 to the Emergency Transit Mechanism in Niger, but with both approaching full capacity, evacuations directly out of Libya will soon be the only available lifeline for vulnerable refugees. The security situation is already hampering UNHCR efforts to access some of the detention centres and this is expected to worsen should the violence spread.
For more information on this topic, please contact:
In Tripoli, Paula Barrachina, [email protected], +218 91 001 7553
In Rome, Federico Fossi, [email protected], +39 349 084 3461
In Tunis, Tarik Argaz, [email protected], +216 29 961 295
In Amman, Rula Amin, [email protected], +962 790 04 58 49
In Geneva, Charlie Yaxley, [email protected], +41 795 808 702