UNHCR Flash Update Libya (26 May - 1 June 2018) [EN/AR]
On 24 May, approximately 200 individuals from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia escaped captivity by smugglers in Bani Walid. More than a dozen are reportedly dead following armed attempts by smugglers to recapture them. While many sought refuge in a local mosque, 25 persons were severely injured and transferred to local hospitals for emergency care. According to survivors, they were subject to torture and other human rights abuses at the hands of traffickers. A total of 140 individuals were transferred to the Qasr Ben Gasher detention centre (28 km south of Tripoli). UNHCR provided non-food items (NFIs), psychosocial support and undertook protection screening to identify and register persons in need of international protection. Through its initial screening, UNHCR identified a large number of unaccompanied children among the group. UNHCR will continue to identify the most vulnerable cases in order to find solutions for them in third countries. As of 31 May, no further clashes were reported in Bani Walid and the general situation appears stable.
However, UNHCR is expecting an increase in the number of arrivals from Bani Walid as many refugees and migrants may still be hiding or held in captivity.
So far in 2018, the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) rescued/intercepted a total of 6,929 refugees and migrants. In May alone, a total of 1,756 individuals were disembarked in Libya. The majority of those disembarked were from Mali, Ivory Coast and Eritrea. UNHCR and its partner International Medical Corps (IMC) are present at disembarkation points to provide humanitarian and medical assistance. Similar to previous trends, the boats departed from sites near Garabulli (east of Tripoli), Azzawiya and Zwara (west of Tripoli).
On 28 May, UNHCR coordinated the transfer of eight Eritrean nationals from Kufra detention centre (south of Libya) to Triq al Sikka detention centre in Tripoli. The individuals had been severely injured earlier near the Libyan boarder with Egypt. UNHCR and its partner IMC are monitoring their situation and providing them with humanitarian and medical assistance. UNHCR’s activities in detention centres do not represent an endorsement of the policy of detention. Given the urgent humanitarian needs in detention centres and in light of UNHCR’s refugee protection mandate, it is important that the Office has access to and be present in detention centres for the purpose of monitoring conditions, providing life-saving assistance, identifying those in need of international protection and securing their release from detention.
The assistance UNHCR provides in detention facilities aims at alleviating the suffering of detainees through ensuring that detention conditions meet basic international standards. So far in 2018, UNHCR and its partner provided over 14,000 primary health care consultations and distributed NFIs to more than 8,800 individuals at the detention facilities in Libya. A total of 1,274 individuals were released from detention following UNHCR’s advocacy.
UNHCR continues to rehabilitate the premises that will host its Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli. As of 30 May, 58% of the rehabilitation works have been completed. The GDF is expected to be operational by early July and will provide a dignified environment for vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers while their cases are processed for solutions in third countries.
UNHCR continues to respond to the needs of internally displaced persons (IDP) in Libya. During the week, UNHCR distributed NFIs to displaced Tawerghans living in Benghazi. A total of 446 IDPs were provided with sanitary kits, blankets, sleeping mats and solar lamps. UNHCR has reached over 5,200 Tawerghan IDPs with humanitarian assistance since the beginning of this distribution campaign on 12 May. So far in 2018, UNHCR provided cash assistance to 12,320 IDPs (2,200 families) throughout Libya and distributed NFIs to 20,276 IDPs and returnees. In the coming weeks, UNHCR is planning to distribute more than 800 shelter kits to the returnee community of Awinia in the Nafusa Mountains.