Libyan NGO pledges to support UNHCR in North Africa

During a visit to UNHCR's Geneva headquarters, the chairman of a Libyan non-governmental organisation, pledged on Monday to support the work of the UN refugee agency in North Africa.

High Commissioner António Guterres greets Khaled El Hamedi, head of UNHCR's implementing partner in Libya.   © UNHCR/S.Hopper

GENEVA, February 26 (UNHCR) - The chairman of Libya's International Organisation for Peace, Care and Relief (IOPCR) pledged on Monday in Geneva to support UNHCR's work on behalf of refugees caught in mixed migratory movements in North Africa.

"We have a partnership agreement with UNHCR to support their work in North Africa," Khaled K. El Hamedi, said after a meeting with High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres and other senior UNHCR officials. "Our goal is to promote peace and help people, as much as we can," added the head of IOPCR, a Tripoli-based non-governmental organisation (NGO).

During a visit to UNHCR's Geneva headquarters, El Hamedi said his organisation was ready to help the refugee agency find solutions to the plight of refugees and asylum seekers in Libya.

"We wish that efforts will be intensified from more NGOs, UN agencies and the authorities in the concerned countries to put [in place] a regional strategy that would hopefully address the serious impact of [irregular] migration across the Mediterranean," El Hamedi said.

Last year, UNHCR unveiled a 10-point action plan to help governments address the challenges posed by irregular migration, while safeguarding the rights of refugees and migrants.

UNHCR's plan sets out key areas in which action is required to address the issues of mixed and irregular migratory movements in a coherent and practical way - in countries of origin, transit and destination.

While recognising that border controls are essential for combatting international crime, including smuggling and trafficking, and to avert security threats, the plan stresses the need for practical protection safeguards to ensure that such measures are not applied in an indiscriminate or disproportionate manner and do not lead to refugees being returned to countries where their lives or liberty would be at risk.

The UNHCR plan also identifies the need for training and clear instructions for border guards and immigration officials so that they know how to respond to asylum applications and how to meet the needs of separated children, victims of trafficking and other groups with special needs. It also calls for appropriate reception arrangements to be set up to ensure that the basic human needs of people involved in mixed movements are met.