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UNHCR Libya External update – March 2013

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Refugees and asylum seekers

UNHCR has started the registration of refugees and asylum seekers detained in South Libya. In February, authorities transferred over 1,000 foreign nationals including persons in need of international protection to detention centers in the South. On 19-21 March, UNHCR in collaboration with the Department of Combating Illegal Migration (DCIM) started the registration (see box on the right). Registration of vulnerable cases is also underway in Tripoli and Benghazi. In East Libya, UNHCR managed to release 3 Eritreans and 3 Ethiopians from Ganfouda prison and transferred them to the camp managed by the Libyan Red Crescent (LRC). The office also succeeded in negotiating the release of 14 Eritrean women, their husbands and a child from the Hawary Prison managed by DCIM.

Syrian displacement

UNHCR remains concerned about the protection needs of persons displaced from Syria especially since the closure of the Egyptian-Libyan border in February 2013. According to unconfirmed estimates, over 100,000 Syrians are present in Libya. As of 2 April, 8,476 individuals (2,515 cases) have been registered with UNHCR in Libya. Many Syrians prefer to come to Libya instead of remaining in Egypt, Jordan or Lebanon because of pre-existing family connections. The majority of them, originally from Damascus, Hama, Homs, Daraa and Latakia, are based in the coastal cities including Tripoli, Misratah, Surt and Benghazi. As part of regular protection monitoring, the office has received reports according to which Syrians face arbitrary arrest, detention and mistreatments.

Registration activities are also ongoing in East Libya where, as of 31 March, UNHCR registered 2,231 individuals from Syria (photo above). UNHCR also delivered 2,151 relief items to them including 466 hygiene kits, 219 kitchen sets, 965 mattresses, 1536 blankets, 423 shoes, 274 scarves and 637 sweaters.