The UNHCR airlifted 149 African persons including 65 minors and 13 infants from Libya to Rome for safety.
Nearly 150 persons from East Africa, including 65 minors and 13 babies under one, were rescued from conflict-torn Libya and airlifted to Rome on Thursday by the UN refugee agency.
“Due to the violent clashes and deteriorating security conditions in Tripoli, 149 refugees and vulnerable asylum seekers were evacuated and transferred to Rome,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.
Those airlifted to safety — including a two-month-old infant — came from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia, it said.
“After months spent in desperate conditions in detention centres”, and trapped by renewed fighting in the North African country, many were suffering from malnutrition or needed medical attention, UNHCR said. “Other evacuation operations are needed,” the UNHCR mission head in Libya, Jean-Paul Cavalieri, was quoted as saying.
“These operations represent a lifeline for refugees, for whom the only way to escape is to entrust their lives to unscrupulous traffickers in order to cross the Mediterranean,” he said.
Earlier this week, 62 people from Syria, Sudan and Somalia were evacuated from Tripoli to the UNHCR Emergency Transit Centre in Timisoara, Romania, where they were to receive medical care before going on to Norway.
The UN said that over a thousand refugees and migrants had been evacuated from Libya this year but 1,200 others had been returned by the Libyan coast guard after being intercepted off the coast.
The UNHCR said that risks for refugees and migrants in Libya were rising, and that “new detainees are arriving at a faster pace than people are departing.”
“More humanitarian evacuations are needed,” UNHCR mission chief in Libya Jean-Paul Cavalieri said, adding that their only alternative was to put themselves “in the hands of unscrupulous smugglers and traffickers on the Mediterranean Sea.
Clashes between rival forces in Libya and heavy bombardments have forced more than 83,000 Libyans to flee their homes since the start of April, according to the UN.
More than 2,400 have also been wounded, while 100,000 people are feared trapped by the clashes raging on the outskirts of Tripoli, according to the World Health Organization. Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is leading a military offensive against the UN-recognised government in Tripoli, said Sunday he will continue fighting until militias in the city laid down their arms.
Via Libya Reports