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UNHCR flight relocates 54 vulnerable refugees from Niger to Italy

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UNHCR flight relocates 54 vulnerable refugees from Niger to Italy

5 November 2019
2019.UNHCR flight relocates 54 vulnerable refugees from Niger to Italy.Italy
Dawit America Girmay, a UNHCR cultural mediator, entertains an Eritrean child after she arrived in Rome, Italy, on a relocation flight from Niger.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency today relocated 54 vulnerable refugees from the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) and urban areas in Niger to Italy.

The group, who landed in Rome at around 17:00 local time, is made up of refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, including 23 children, 13 of whom have been separated from their parents and wider family. Most had previously been held in detention in Libya for prolonged periods, where they faced terrible conditions, appalling human rights abuses and the rising threat of being caught up in the hostilities.

“Refugees in Libya continue to face a dire situation, struggling to access the basics needed to survive,” said Jean-Paul Cavalieri, UNHCR Representative in Libya. “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.”

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.

Amidst intensifying violence in Libya, humanitarian evacuation operations to other countries are a crucial lifeline for vulnerable refugees in detention centres and urban areas in desperate need of security and protection.

Prior to today’s evacuation, UNHCR has evacuated more than 5,100 refugees and asylum-seekers out of Libya to other countries since 2017, including 2,913 to Niger and 189 to Rwanda through the Emergency Transit Mechanism.

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