UN repatriates 172 asylum seekers from Libya to Niger

UN repatriates 172 asylum seekers from Libya to Niger
2 min read
07 November, 2021
The High Commissioner for Refugees said many of those evacuated had previously been "detained in extremely dire conditions, were victims of trafficking or had experienced violence in Libya".
The asylum seekers were evacuated in the first repatriation flight of its kind in over a year [Getty]

The UN Refugee Agency said on Friday it had evacuated 172 asylum seekers from Libya to Niger, in the first such repatriation flight for more than a year.

"Many of those evacuated had previously been detained in extremely dire conditions, were victims of trafficking or had experienced violence in Libya," the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement.

"The group included families, children travelling alone, and a baby born just a few weeks ago."

Libya plunged into chaos and conflict after the fall of Muammar al-Qaddafi in 2011, becoming a crossroads for migrants south of the Sahara who were desperate to reach Europe.

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Many of the migrants have been detained there, some of them in conditions condemned as deplorable by rights watchdogs.

In October, the Libyan authorities lifted a blanket ban on evacuation flights.

"UNHCR is relieved to see the resumption of these life-saving evacuation flights," said the agency's mission chief in Libya, Jean-Paul Cavalieri.

"However, considering the limited number of places, evacuation can only be a solution for extremely vulnerable people, in urgent need of security and protection."

Other flights since the lifting of the ban have brought out 127 Gambians and 91 Nigerians, who were repatriated through the International Organisation for Migration.