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20-Nov-2020 00:05:13
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has evacuated on Thursday (19 Nov) a group of 79 vulnerable asylum-seekers out of Libya to safety in Rwanda. UNHCR

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1.Wide shot, asylum seekers as they enter UNHCR Serraj office for verification.
2.Med shot, UNHCR staff helping Evacuees with luggage as they enter UNHCR office for verification.
3.Various shots, evacuees having their temperature tested as they enter UNHCR Serraj office for verification.
4.Wide shot, evacuees lining up as they enter UNHCR Serraj office for verification.
5.Wide shot, UNHCR staff verifying evacuees as inside UNHCR Serraj office.
6. SOUNDBITE (Tigrinya) Abrahet, Eritrean Asylum seeker, 22 years old:
"I have been in a warehouse in Bani Walid. After surviving death, I say thank God that I made it this far and now I am optimistic about the future. I hope I will have a better life than the one I had before.”
7. SOUNDBITE (Tigrinya) Abrahet, Eritrean Asylum seeker, 22 years old:
“I passed many difficulties in Libya. I survived dying at sea or in the desert and God has helped me reach here. I hope people who are left behind reach a peaceful place like me and I hope to reach where our people abroad are living. There is no limit to my happiness now."
8.Wide shot, evacuees in the waiting area in UNHCR Serraj office as they receive their documents and being verified.
7. Close up, evacuee looking at the camera as he sits in the waiting area in UNHCR Serraj office to receive his documents and be verified.
8. Various shots, UNHCR staff calling the names of the Evacuees as upon their evacuation in UNHCR Serraj office.
9.SOUNDBITE (Tingrinya) Tsega, Eritrean Asylum seeker, 28 years old:
"There is much suffering. There are many women and men in warehouses, for example. In there, are many men in Tirik Sikka detention centre who can't even get sunlight. There are females too who sometimes get sunlight but are still suffering. Especially for females, it's very difficult to spend 4-5 years detained. It is very difficult. I don't have enough words to describe it.”
10.SOUNDBITE (Tingrinya) Tsega, Eritrean Asylum seeker, 28 years old:
“I wish governments around the world would help people who are suffering here. The problems we face here are not just being hungry, life in Libya is very difficult, we get kidnapped, they sell us and others buy us. Even while we are in the hands of UNHCR we don't feel fully safe because we don't know what we might face at any time while we are here. I want them to help us leave this country as fast as possible."
9. Various shots, evacuees leaving UNHCR Serraj office to get into the busses.
10.Med shot, UNHCR staff handing Bags and Snacks to evacuees upon their getting into the busses.
11. Various shots, evacuees loading their luggage into the busses in fornt of UNHCR serraj office.
12. Various shots, UNHCR staff identifying evacuees before they get into the busses in front of UNHCR office.
13. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Fawaz, Somali Asylum seeker with 4-month-old baby son Adnan:
“In the past 10 years we have suffered, but hopefully, after the suffering, we will now have relief. We suffered a lot. We were hit and tortured in Bani Walid too. They abduct you, and take you to one place then another, and sell you – from one person to another, and place to place. With all the difficulties we passed through, I’m thankful they are over. Thanks to God.”
14. Various shots, UNHCR staff providing evacuees with spare masks in the busses before heading to Mitiga airport.
15. SOUNDBITE (English) Caroline Gluck, Senior External Relations Officer, UNHCR Libya:
"It's a big day for the refugees and asylum seekers who've gathered here and will soon be on a flight out of Libya taking them to the safety of Rwanda. And it's the first flight of it's kind in almost a year, that's because of global boarder closure as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. The men, women and children here are mostly form Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia. These flights are a crucial lifeline for some of the most vulnerable refugees who spent long periods of time in detention often in very difficult conditions. In Rwanda they will stay in a transit facility while further solutions are sought for them including resettlement.But there aren't enough humanitarian evacuation flights like this available, and we continue to urge countries to offer us more spaces so we can move more vulnerable refugees out of harm's way and out of Libya, where they can have a greater hope for the future."
16. Various shots, evacuees as they walking towards Mitiga airport gate upon their evacuation to Rwanda.


The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has evacuated on Thursday (19 Nov) a group of 79 vulnerable asylum-seekers out of Libya to safety in Rwanda.

These critical, life-saving flights from Libya to Rwanda had been on hold for nearly a year because of COVID-19-related worldwide border closures and movement restrictions. The group evacuated last night follows 306 other refugees brought to safety so far, thanks to the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM), agreed and set up in mid-2019 by the Government of Rwanda, UNHCR and the African Union.

The UNHCR-chartered flight, which took off from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, Thursday afternoon, landed safely at Kigali International Airport at 10PM local time. The group included men, women, and children from Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia. Most were living in Tripoli, but many had previously been held in detention, some for several years.

These evacuation flights are a vital lifeline for refugees and asylum seekers trapped in Libya. The ETM gives hope and provides a safe and organized pathway to longer-term solutions. However, the number of places available through the ETM and other humanitarian evacuation flights is still insufficient. UNHCR advocates for more countries to take part and offer more places for the most vulnerable refugees.

In the absence of legal pathways, desperate people continue to embark on dangerous journeys by sea, leading to the tragic loss of life. In the last week alone, an estimated 114 refugees and migrants have drowned or gone missing in four shipwrecks recorded off the Libyan coast.

Asylum-seekers evacuated from Libya have been taken to the transit facility in Gashora, where UNHCR is providing them with assistance including shelter, food, water, medical care, psycho-social support, language courses. The group will stay at the transit facility while solutions are sought for them, including resettlement, voluntary return to countries of previous asylum or to countries of origin where it is safe to do so, or integration with local Rwandan communities.

With this latest evacuation, 581 vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers have been taken out of Libya this year, including 221 via resettlement. Currently, more than 45,200 refugees and asylum seekers are registered with UNHCR in Libya, including nearly 670 held in government-run detention centres.

UNHCR reiterates its call for the orderly release of all refugees and asylum-seekers from arbitrary detention.
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