Migrant evacuation flights resume from Libya, U.N. agency says

  • World
  • Friday, 16 Oct 2020

FILE PHOTO: Migrants queue to receive food packages distributed by UNHCR, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, during the holy month of Ramadan in Tripoli, Libya May 12, 2020. REUTERS/Ayman Al-Sahili/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) - United Nations evacuation flights for migrants stuck in Libya have resumed after being suspended because of the global pandemic, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday.

More than 150 people from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, including 15 children under 18 years old, flew to Niger later on Thursday where they are now in quarantine, the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said.

Both UNHCR and the U.N. migration agency IOM have called for Libya, torn apart by years of war and chaos, to be classed as an unsafe port for migrants.

The country has long been a stepping stone for migrants seeking to make the often dangerous sea voyage to Europe.

The UNHCR spokesman said at a weekly briefing that nearly all the migrants who were evacuated on Thursday had experienced arbitrary detention while in Libya. More than 3,400 migrants and asylum seekers remain in government detention centres at risk of abuse, he added.

The U.N.'s Libya mission on Thursday also welcomed the announcement by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) this week that it had detained an alleged people smuggler.

(Reporting by Michael Shields, writing by Angus McDowall, editing by Louise Heavens)

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