On 1 October, the High Commissioner, Filipo Grandi, called on States to work more closely to find solutions for refugees. Grandi noted that thousands of individuals continue to cross the Sahel into Libya and across the Central Mediterranean to Europe “driven by despair, and exposed to unthinkable cruelty and dangers.” He called for access to asylum in Europe to be preserved. “Rescue at sea,” he said, “has been taken hostage by politics. Responsibility-sharing has been replaced by responsibility-shifting.” Highlighting UNHCR’s protection work in Libya, he reported that an evacuation programme has flown close to 1,850 refugees and asylum seekers to safety, most to Niger, with the aim of onward resettlement, alongside a programme for the voluntary return of migrants carried out by the International Organization for Migration. He emphasised the need for more evacuation options, resettlement places and strategic investments to tackle the conflicts and development problems.
As of 4 October, the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) rescued/intercepted 13,898 refugees and migrants (9,560 men, 2,118 women and 1,364 children) at sea during 104 operations. This is an increase of 12.3% compared to the same period in 2017. Since the beginning of the year, 99 bodies were recovered in Libyan waters while 608 lives were lost at sea. Most of the individuals disembarked were Nigerian (1,830 individuals), Sudanese (1,765 individuals) and Eritrean (1,532 individuals).
There are 55,877 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in Libya. The majority of refugees registered comprise of Palestinians (5,312 individuals) and Iraqis (2,462 individuals), while the majority of asylum-seekers comprise of Syrians (23,203 individuals) and Sudanese nationals (9,409 individuals). In 2018, 11,291 refugees and asylum-seekers were registered by UNHCR through its Community Day Centres and registration office. Last week alone, UNHCR registered 182 individuals, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea.
For more information on our activities you can visit the UNHCR’s Libya data portal.