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Coronavirus – Africa: UNHCR Update Libya (4 September 2020)


Population movement

As of 2 September, 7,535 refugees and migrants have been registered as rescued/intercepted at sea by the Libyan Coast Guard and disembarked in Libya. The majority of those who disembarked in Libya as of yet, comprise nationals from Sudan (28 per cent), Bangladesh (13 per cent) and Mali (8 per cent). So far this year, a total of 2,214 persons of concern to UNHCR disembarked in Libya. On 29 August, a total of 82 individuals disembarked at the Tripoli Naval Base. UNHCR and its partner, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), were present at the disembarkation point to provide urgent medical assistance and core relief items (CRIs) before individuals were transferred to detention centres by the Libyan authorities.

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UNHCR response

CRIs continue to be distributed in the urban setting and detention centres. Last week, partners CESVI, LibAid and Première Urgence Internationale distributed hygiene kits, mattresses, blankets, soap bars, wipes, solar lamps and hand sanitizers to 344 individuals in the urban community and 261 individuals being held in Al-Kufra, Al-Marj and Ganfooda detention centres in eastern Libya. So far this year, a total of 17,049 refugees and asylum-seekers received CRIs.

Last week, UNHCR registered a total of 211 refugees and asylum-seekers at its Sarraj Registration Office. Nationalities included Sudanese (140), Syrian (31), Eritrean (19), Somalian (9), Palestinian (9), Malian (8) and Ethiopian (5). CRIs such as hygiene kits were provided to those newly registered persons of concern. A total of 61 individuals also had their files updated with information such as family status and contact details.

As a result of movement restrictions, including curfews due to COVID-19, hotlines have become a vital way of ensuring continuity in assistance. Since April, UNHCR’s hotlines have received over 5,500 calls. Meanwhile, in its first week of operation, more than 500 individual callers used a new call centre service run by partner Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and funded by the FCDO (formerly DFID). The centre, which opened in late August, enables quick and direct communication between staff and refugees/asylum-seekers across Libya. The majority of calls related to resettlement queries.

Medical assistance is a vital service for refugees and asylum-seekers in Libya. UNHCR’s medical partner, IRC provides healthcare in Tripoli and Misrata (190 km east of Tripoli) as well as referring urgent medical cases to secondary hospitals. During the reporting week, a total of 102 medical consultations and 31 referrals were provided in Tripoli, while 179 medical consultations and four referrals were provided in Misrata. A 24/7 medical emergency hotline, operational since July, and funded by the EU Trust Fund, continues to support persons of concern in Tripoli. This year, a total of 3,833 primary healthcare consultations have been provided, including 2,362 in the urban community, 1,175 at detention centres and 296 at disembarkation points.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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