Tripoli, Oct 23 (IANS): The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has called on the Libyan authorities to immediately address the "dire situation of asylum-seekers and refugees in a humane and rights-based manner".
"Since the start of the security raids and arrests by the Libyan authorities in October, we have witnessed a sharp deterioration in the situation facing vulnerable asylum-seekers and refugees in Tripoli," said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR's special envoy for the Western and Central Mediterranean.
"The Libyan authorities must come up with a proper plan that respects their rights and identifies durable solutions," Cochetel said.
There are currently some 3,000 people sheltering outside the Community Day Centre in Tripoli, where the UNHCR and its partners have been providing medical assistance and other services, Xinhua new agency reported on Saturday.
"Their situation is very precarious. Many were affected by the raids, demolition of their homes, and have escaped from detention in terrible conditions. Others have joined the group hoping to be evacuated," the UNHCR added, while welcoming the authorisation to restart humanitarian evacuation flights.
"This is a positive development for some of the most vulnerable refugees, who have been waiting anxiously for many months to depart. Our teams are already working to ensure humanitarian flights can restart as soon as possible.
"But we also need to be realistic: resettlement or evacuation flights will only benefit a limited number of people," Cochetel said.
More than 1,000 vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers are currently prioritized for humanitarian flights and awaiting their resumption, the UNHCR said, urging the international community to "offer more legal pathways to safety outside Libya".
Libya has been suffering insecurity and chaos since the fall of its leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, making the North African country a preferred point of departure for illegal migrants who want to cross the Mediterranean Sea to European shores.