Woman in black fur-trimmed hooded jacket holds baby in front of bus

An asylum seeker holds her baby as she prepares to board a bus taking them to the airport for a flight out of Libya. © UNHCR/Mohamed Alalem

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, evacuated 172 vulnerable asylum seekers out of Libya to safety in Niger on the evening of 4 November. It was the first evacuation flight to Niger in more than a year, after the Libyan authorities lifted a blanket ban on humanitarian flights.

“UNHCR is relieved to see the resumption of these life-saving evacuation flights,” said the agency’s Chief of Mission in Libya, Jean-Paul Cavalieri. “However, considering the limited number of places, evacuation can only be a solution for extremely vulnerable people, in urgent need of security and protection.”

Many of those evacuated had previously been detained in extremely dire conditions, were victims of trafficking or had experienced violence in Libya. The group included families, children traveling alone, and a baby born just a few weeks ago. Evacuees said they were relieved to be leaving Libya.

UNHCR welcomes the intervention of the Libyan Presidential Council, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry and the Attorney General’s Office, who worked to end the suspension of the lifesaving humanitarian flights.

The evacuation took place through the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) established in 2017 thanks to the Government of Niger, which generously agreed to temporarily receive on its territory refugees facing life-threatening situations in Libya so that UNHCR can work on identifying durable solutions for each of them.

In Niger, UNHCR provides mental health care support to those who have faced traumatic events while in Libya, as well as access to educational and vocational training opportunities. So far, 3,361 refugees and asylum seekers have been evacuated from Libya to Niger, of whom 3,213 have departed from Niger to third countries on resettlement and complementary pathways.

News footage is available below for media and broadcasters:

For more information please contact:

In Tunis, Caroline Gluck, gluck@unhcr.org, +216 299 255 06
In Tunis, Tarik Argaz, argaz@unhcr.org, +216 29 961295
In Niamey, Jean-Sebastian Josset, josset@unhcr.org, +33 676 394968
In Amman, Andreas Kirchhof, kirchhof@unhcr.org, +962 791825473
In Amman, Rula Amin, aminr@unhcr.org, +962 79 004 5849
In Geneva, Aikaterini Kitidi, kitidi@unhcr.org, +41 79 580 8334
In New York, Kathryn Mahoney, mahoney@unhcr.org, +1 347 443 7646

Published by UNHCR on 05 November 2021

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