On 22 January, UNHCR called for urgent action on the Mediterranean Sea. UNHCR is alarmed at recent developments, including the situation in the Mediterranean, where at least two shipwrecks and numerous other rescue incidents occurred. UNHCR believes it has become urgent for States to take action to reassert effective rescue capacity in the Mediterranean by increasing coordinated multi-state rescue, restoring rapid disembarkation in a place of safety, and lifting impediments to the work of NGO rescue vessels.
So far in 2019, the Libyan Coast Guard rescued/intercepted 469 refugees and migrants. This week, UNHCR recorded an increase in disembarkations in Libya. On 22 January, UNHCR provided food and water to 141 refugees and migrants who disembarked in Misrata, after being rescued by a merchant vessel, the Lady Sham. The group had been stranded at sea for three days. On 21 January, 106 persons were rescued by a commercial ship, the Gesina Schepera, and disembarked in Alkhoms Naval Base. On 20 January, 152 persons were disembarked in Tripoli. On 19 January, 70 refugees and migrants disembarked at the Tripoli Naval Base. On all occasions, UNHCR and its partner the International Medical Corps (IMC) provided core-relief items and medical assistance both at the disembarkation points and in the detention centres to which individuals were transferred by the authorities.
On 22 January, UNHCR evacuated 26 refugees to the Emergency Transit Centre (ETC) in Romania with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The group was composed of Syrian, Sudanese and Eritrean nationals who will remain in the ETC pending their resettlement to a third country. In January alone, 93 refugees and asylumseekers departed from Libya to Romania. Since September 2017, UNHCR has identified and submitted 1,064 individuals for resettlement to seven resettlement countries: Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
During the week, refugees and asylum-seekers were transferred to UNHCR’s Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) from detention centres. On 22 January, a group of 80 individuals previously held in Triq Al Sikka, Abu Salim, Tajura and Al Sabaa detention centres arrived to the GDF. A second group of 60 persons arrived to the GDF on 24 January, previously held in Souq Al-Khamis detention centre. All individuals will be processed for solutions in third countries. The GDF currently hosts 142 vulnerable refugees and asylumseekers.
Since October 2018, UNHCR has registered 3,140 refugees and asylumseekers in detention centres. In January alone, UNHCR registered 328 individuals. This week, UNHCR registered asylum-seekers in Zwara and Azzawya detention centres (100 and 45 km west of Tripoli, respectively). In addition, last week UNHCR visited Al Khoms detention centre (115 km east of Tripoli) and Triq al Sikka detention centre in Tripoli. UNHCR estimates that 5,000 refugees and migrants are detained in Libya of whom 3,800 are of concern to UNHCR.