UNHCR: 54 vulnerable refugees relocated from Niger to Italy

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© UNHCR/Alessandro Penso

ROME, NOVEMBER 6 – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency today relocated 54 vulnerable refugees from the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) and urban areas in Niger to Italy. Many of the refugees -from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan- were previously detained in Libya, “where they faced terrible conditions, appalling human rights abuses and the rising threat of being caught up in the hostilities,” reports UNHCR. In light of this, they were resettled in Niger, where their asylum application was assessed and eventually accepted. The group included 23 children, 13 of which travelled without their parents or wider family.

This is the second humanitarian relocation from Niger to Italy carried out by UNHCR after a first group of 51 people was transferred in November last year. Following today’s flight, 913 vulnerable people previously at risk in Libya have been relocated to Italy since December 2017, including some evacuated directly out of the country. Since 2017, the UNHCR has evacuated 5,100 refugees and asylum-seekers out of Libya, 3102 of which to Niger and Rwanda through the Emergency Transit Mechanism.

Jean-Paul Cavalieri, UNHCR Representative in Libya, expressed gratitude for the solidarity of both Italy and Niger, emphasizing however that many vulnerable refugees still remain in Libya, where they face ever-worsening conditions and human rights abuses: “Refugees in Libya continue to face a dire situation, struggling to access the basics needed to survive. By welcoming them to Niger, and by arranging for their relocation to Italy, both countries have shown much-needed solidarity towards refugees. However, thousands more need the same support. It’s crucial that other countries come forward with more places, and faster processes, to help us evacuate  more vulnerable refugees in Libya to safety”. (SB@OnuItalia)