The UN Refugee Agency has confirmed the evacuation on Monday of 130 people out of strife-torn Libya, marking the first evacuations to Niger in 2019.
The evacuees were detained in very dire conditions, and for months on end, said a statement by the UNHCR on Tuesday.
The agency had led international campaign for their release and eventual transfer to the Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli, which opened last December, while their processing for solutions outside Libya was being completed.
“Those evacuated today exemplify once again the urgency of ending the detention of refugees and migrants in Libya,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean.
“Until that happens, evacuations will remain quite literally a life-line” Cochetel.
The evacuees to Niger are being hosted at UNHCR’s Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Niamey until they can be resettled.
The completion of the first evacuation in 2019 brings the total number of people evacuated from Libya by UNHCR to 3,016 since December 2017.
In addition to evacuations to Niger, 93 refugees from Syria, Sudan and Eritrea have departed from Tripoli to Timisoara, in western Romania, this year, UNHCR said.
They will spend a few weeks at UNHCR’s Emergency Transit Facility before flying onwards to a resettlement country.
“Our sister agency IOM, the UN Migration Agency, assisted in travel logistics” it added.
“The efforts of resettlement countries in coming forward with offers of places for those trapped in Libya are crucial. However, with more resettlement places needed, and many more in Libya requiring urgent evacuation, UNHCR appeals to resettlement countries to speed their procedures for further places to become available” the UN agency said in its statement.