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A response from the UNHCR on the situation outside its community day care centre in Tripoli

FOLLOWING the publication of yesterday’s story on the situation outside the UNHCR’s community day care (CDC) centre in Tripoli, the agency sent The Civil Fleet the following response.

It was too long to include in the original article, which you can read here, and therefore we post it here in its entirety.

[THE UNHCR] remains extremely concerned about the situation facing those camped outside our buildings. Their situation is very precarious; many were affected by the police operations, demolition of their homes and detention in very difficult conditions.

Others joined hoping they might be evacuated or resettled out of Libya. They have been sleeping outside in a cold, unsafe environment, with women and children among them.

Since the October events, we have been providing emergency assistance, including cash for shelter and basic needs, food parcels to last one month, hygiene kits and renewed or replaced lost UNHCR documentation for thousands of people in different locations in Tripoli, and also provided health assistance through our medical partner.

Since October:

• More than 8,000 asylum seekers/refugees have been processed for new/replacement documentation.

• Cash assistance has been provided via UNHCR and partners to nearly 4,000 asylum seekers and refugees

• More than 21,000 individuals received food parcels in Tripoli, Azzawya, Misrata and Zwara in the period October-December. In addition, more than 1,600 persons were provided with emergency parcels in Tripoli in this period.

We have continued to hold regular dialogue with representatives of those camped outside our buildings, to try to resolve the situation, understand their concerns, clarify what UNHCR can and cannot do and address their needs and concerns.

Following one recent meeting, UNHCR received a list on December 22 of more than 1,300 cases of people outside the CDC.

Our registration teams have now been able to check the lists. Not everyone was registered with UNHCR and 66 cases were listed twice.

Many on the list had already received initial assistance from us (eg cash/food/documentation), but we are beginning a new round of assistance next week, prioritising those who are asylum seekers who are homeless or registered their addresses as outside the CDC.

Others who are not registered with us will be scheduled for appointments.

The decision to close the CDC at the end of 2021 was a very difficult one, as it was a “one stop shop” providing a range of assistance with partners to around 150 persons a day in a single location.

It was however necessary; after two months of blockade, alternatives solutions were urgently needed to ensure we could continue helping those seeking our support and assistance.

We explained we would provide emergency assistance in other locations in Tripoli. We have been able to operate again at our main Registration office in Serraj since late last month, providing assistance for 200-300 persons per day.

Libya is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention and does not have a national asylum system in place. UNHCR’s own operations in Libya are also severely constrained by a fast-changing security environment, a lack of a Host Country Agreement with the government, affecting visa issuance for international staff, lack of access and a limited number of partners on the ground.

Evacuation or resettlement is a demand voiced by those outside our buildings. While we fully understand their demands to be resettled out of Libya, it should be noted that humanitarian flights out of Libya were blocked for much of the year, upon government instruction.

They resumed in November and since then, UNHCR has helped 1,300 individuals leave Libya through evacuation, resettlement and family reunion. We have made clear, however, that UNHCR is not able to provide for all – that these are solutions available only to some of the most vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees due to limited places we are provided by third countries.

This is the case globally as well as in Libya. We continue, however, to urge the international community to offer more legal pathways, including in the countries of asylum, to help more people to safety.

UNHCR remains highly committed to supporting refugees and asylum seekers in Libya, including those who have been protesting outside the CDC since the October 1 security crackdown by the Libyan authorities.

With other UN agencies, we stand ready to support urgent actions to help alleviate their suffering and have, from the beginning, made clear our willingness to work with the Libyan authorities in developing a plan to address the situation facing refugees and asylum seekers in a humane and rights-based manner.

Top image is a screenshot of video footage from one of Refugees In Libya’s protests outside the UNHCR CDC centre


Published by The Civil Fleet

A news blog and podcast focused on the activist-led refugee rescue and support missions across Fortress Europe

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