The Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) was set-up in December 2018 to serve as a transit centre for formerly detained refugees who have been identified as most vulnerable and for whom a solution outside Libya has already been found. UNHCR and partners operate in the facility under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior. Following the deadly airstrike on Tajoura detention centre on 3 July, over 400 individuals arrived by foot to the GDF in Tripoli. UNHCR’s focus at the time was on saving lives and exceptionally provided services to all the spontaneous arrivals in the GDF beyond the facility’s’ capacity and purpose. In addition to these individuals, many others, who were not in Tajoura at the time of the airstrike, entered the GDF without UNHCR’s identification, including persons who are not registered with UNHCR. For the past two months, all individuals have been hosted in the facility given the traumatic experienced many had endured in Tajoura.
The GDF is now severely overcrowded. Over 1,000 persons are hosted there, while the capacity of the facility is for 700 persons. The infrastructure and services at the GDF are stretched thin, with deteriorating living conditions that may lead to an unsustainable situation.
The serious overcrowding prevailing at the GDF also means that UNHCR is no longer able to transfer vulnerable refugees to the GDF and then evacuated out of Libya, which is a source of great distress to many languishing in detention centres. It is crucial to ensure that the GDF maintains its original function and continues serving as a transit centre and that people continue to be evacuated through this live-saving arrangement. UNHCR, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior, has reviewed the case of the individuals who entered the GDF spontaneously. However, solutions at present are not available for everyone. A total 55 individuals who survived the airstrike in Tajoura were already identified at the time for further processing and will remain in the facility until they are evacuated.
Individuals who arrived spontaneously to the GDF, including some Tajoura survivors for whom a solution has not yet been identified, have been offered support in the urban context.
They will be allowed to move freely and provided with a support package which includes the provision of cash, core-relief items, registration and an individual protection assessment, through which some individuals will be identified for resettlement, return to first country of asylum or other legal pathways. Over 50,000 refugees are living in the urban community in Libya. The solution offered to the persons who entered the GDF spontaneously is in line with this, as all persons should have access to freedom of movement and humanitarian assistance in the urban context. While the solution offered to the persons who entered the GDF may not meet their expectations, it is the only alternative with the current available resources. Solutions outside Libya are very limited, and therefore, UNHCR continues to call for more slots for resettlement, evacuations and humanitarian corridors, including for the vulnerable who were in Tajoura detention centre when the facility was hit by airstrikes. Slots for evacuations and resettlement out of Libya are a lifeline and at present not enough to support all persons in need.
UNHCR also continues to advocate for the release of all persons of concern detained in Libya into the urban community, where support can be provided through the urban programme.
As of 6 September, 6,058 refugees and migrants were rescued/intercepted at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard during 78 sea operations. The majority of those disembarked are from Sudan, Mali and Ivory Coast. So far in 2019, a total of 314 persons have gone missing while 18 bodies were recovered during sea-rescue operations. UNHCR and its partner, the International Medical Corps (IMC) provide medical assistance and core-relief items (CRIs) to individuals at the disembarkation points. UNHCR reiterates that Libya cannot be considered a safe port for disembarkation.
Last week, UNHCR amd its partner IMC provided 54 primary healthcare consultations and 29 medical referrals at the Community Day Centre (CDC). As of 6 September, a total of 6,764 medical consultations and 1,070 referrals were provided to refugees and asylum-seekers living in the urban context. Additionally, more than 600 individuals received cash assistance at the CDC.
Since the onset of clashes in April, nearly 120,000 individuals have been displaced (IDPs) from their homes due to the hostilities. As a response, UNHCR and its partner, LibAid distributed CRIs including blankets and solar lamps to 10,585 IDPs (1,960 families) and provided cash assistance to more than 5,060 IDPs (921 families).
UNHCR and its partners are implementing quick-impact projects (QIPs) in Libya. QIPs are small, rapidly implemented projects intended to help create conditions for peaceful coexistence between those displaced and their hosting communities, and to strengthen the resilience of these communities. So far in 2019, UNHCR implemented more than 20 projects supporting education and health facilities for IDPs and host communities throughout Libya. These projects also included rehabilitation of public facilities, provision of generators and ambulances to hospitals.