The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR’s) Special Envoy for the Western and Central Mediterranean, Vincent Cochetel, called on migrants and refugees not to go to Libya. This is because he considered it unsafe.
In a statement, Cochetel criticized the appointment of an unnamed human smuggler on the list of the United Nations (UN) Sanctions Committee as head of the anti-illegal migration body by the government, with competencies in the affairs of migrants and refugees.
He added that such action reflects the unstable situation present in Libya, in reference to Abd Al-Rahman Milad, known as Bija.
Previously, Cochetel criticized the humanitarian situation for migrants in Libya. He accused the government of exercising excessive force against migrants who fled from a shelter West of Tripoli.
On Thursday, the UNHCR announced that 177 asylum seekers, including women and young children, had been evacuated from Libya to Niger.
It is the second evacuation flight to Niger this year, since the Libyan authorities lifted a blanket ban on humanitarian flights in October.
“This is the 30th evacuation flight to Niger organized since the Emergency Transit Mechanism was established,” the UNHCR statement added.
The UNHCR noted that the mechanism was established in 2017 by the government of Niger, which agreed to temporarily receive asylum seekers and refugees facing a life-threatening situation in Libya.
“So far, a total of 3,710 refugees and asylum seekers have been evacuated from Libya to Niger. 3,255 have departed from Niger to third countries on resettlement, or complementary pathways,” the UNHCR statement said.
Jean-Paul Cavalieri, the UNHCR Chief of Mission for Libya, said that “these life-saving flights bring hope of a better future for some of the most vulnerable people urgently seeking security and protection. Some migrants have just been released from detention, while others have been living in urban areas. Many are victims of smuggling or trafficking and have experienced violence in Libya.”