Today, UNHCR appealed for more resettlement places for refugees after reports of some 160 new deaths on the Mediterranean. UNHCR renewed its appeal for help in saving human lives by offering more resettlement places and other safe alternatives to protection for refugees, including through family reunification. This week alone, some 160 people were reported dead or missing in three separate incidents in the Mediterranean Sea.
In September 2017, UNHCR appealed urgently for 40,000 resettlement places for refugees in 15 priority countries of asylum and transit along the Central Mediterranean route. In all, 277,000 refugees are estimated to be in need of resettlement in these countries. States pledged so far less than one third of the 40,000 urgently needed resettlement places. Most of these are part of regular established global resettlement programmes and only a few represent additional places.
So far in 2018, 707 individuals, including 138 women and 85 children, were disembarked in Tripoli by the Libyan Coast Guard. On each occasion, UNHCR and partner International Medical Corps (IMC) provided humanitarian assistance upon disembarkation, including primary healthcare, refreshments, winter jackets and blankets. The majority of those disembarked this week were Nigerian and Malian nationals. UNHCR identified 143 refugees and asylumseekers from Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea. In line with recent trends, most boats departed from Garabulli and surroundings, to the east of Tripoli. On 9 January, between 60 and 100 individuals were reported as missing in an incident at sea. No bodies were recovered by the Libyan Coast Guard.
In 2018, UNHCR is expanding its protection activities throughout Libya, enhancing cooperation with authorities to respond to the humanitarian needs in the country. With the support of new international and national partners, UNHCR is expanding protection referral systems to ensure that internally displaced populations and persons in need of international protection have access to essential services and protection.
In anticipation of the return of internally displaced persons to Tawergha, some 40 km south of Misrata, the Protection Sector led by UNHCR has developed operational guidelines for returns. These guidelines cover the provision of services for returnees throughout Libya. Approximately 40,000 Tawerghan have been displaced for more than seven years. According to Libyan authorities, their return will take place in February 2018.
UNHCR’s Community Development Centres in Tripoli continue to provide assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers. This week, UNHCR, IMC and CESVI assisted 1,284 refugees and asylum-seekers with registration, psychosocial support, medical assistance, core relief items (clothes, blankets or winter jackets) and cash assistance. The large majority of refugees and asylum-seekers approaching the centres this week were from Sudan, Syria, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Palestine and Somalia. Outreach activities continued during the week, with assistance provided to nine refugee families living in and around Tripoli.