UNHCR Libya External update – February 2013
Refugees and asylum seekers
The recent transfer of refugees and asylum seekers to the South is a source of concern for UNHCR. In February the office received reports of round-ups of irregular migrants including persons in need of international protection. More than 1,000 undocumented foreign nationals were arrested in Tripoli and Benghazi and transported to detention facilities in South Libya. To assess protection needs of persons of concern, UNHCR conducted a mission to South Libya between 10-14 February (see box on the right). Regarding risks of refoulement, detention authorities in the South under the Department of Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM) assured UNHCR that those from refugee-producing countries such as Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia are not at risk of deportation. In fact, there is no evidence indicating that refugees and asylum-seekers have been deported. UNHCR is planning a follow-up mission to the South to provide further assistance to persons of concern.
Internally displaced persons (IDPs)
On Tuesday 26 February, Deputy Prime Minister chaired a ministerial meeting to discuss the return to their homes of both IDPs and Libyan sill abroad. Reportedly, recommendations included the activation of a social justice law, national reconciliation, improving IDP living conditions and ensuring their safe return. UNHCR welcomes this positive development. Yet it remains concerned about the protection situation of IDPs who continue to fear revenge attacks and arbitrary arrests. The office has recently started a new mapping exercise of IDPs throughout Libya. This is intended to gather updated information on the size of the IDP population in Libya and document protection needs including eviction threats. As part of this mapping, on 20 February, UNHCR conducted a monitoring visit to the Marine Academy, Tripoli. At the time of the visit, 430 Tawergha families were in the site, 2,450 individuals overall. Community leaders expressed concern about the ongoing eviction threats. Moreover, UNHCR was informed that on 19 February at around 7:30am a civilian car with four armed entered the Fellah site in Tripoli hosting IDPs from Tawergha. Reportedly, the unidentified men tried to arrest IDPs randomly and opened fire. No injures were reported. Finally, despite the fluid security situation, UNHCR continues to provide regular assistance to IDPs in Eastern Libya. In collaboration with LibAid,
UNHCR Benghazi delivers health care and facilitates access to education in order to improve living conditions of IDPs.