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UNHCR brings help to refugees and migrants impacted by fierce fighting in Sabratha

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, delivered today a first batch of humanitarian assistance to refugees and migrants stranded in Sabratha, a city located some 80 kilometres west of Tripoli and which has been the theater of three weeks of fierce fighting.

“The situation remains very fragile and we are closely monitoring the situation. We are working with partners on the ground to deliver assistance to those in need,” said Roberto Mignone, UNHCR Representative to Libya, who noted that the clashes also left many displaced. The most urgent needs include food, water, non-food items and medical assistance.

After the fighting stopped, last Friday, the Libyan authorities took control of several unofficial detention centres previously run by a criminal network involved in trafficking and smuggling, and where 6,000 refugees and migrants were held in very difficult conditions.

The Libyan authorities have started their transfer to official detention centres. Some 3,100 individuals have already been sent to an official detention center in the area of Dahman, in Sabratha. Among them are refugee children and women.

In coordination with humanitarian partners, UNHCR sent two trucks transporting emergency humanitarian assistance to Dahman today, including some 3,000 blankets, 3,000 sleeping mats, 2,800 hygiene kits and 350 baby kits. Two more trucks are expected to bring more aid tomorrow.

UNHCR has also approached the authorities to ensure that detained refugees are immediately released and transferred to a safe place, where UNHCR can provide them with additional emergency assistance, including shelter for the most vulnerable.

“We know that refugees are among those detained and have initiated demarches for their urgent release,” said Mignone. Since 2016, 1,347 refugees have been released from detention following UNHCR’s efforts, including 769 in 2017 alone.

UNHCR is also working closely with its partner LibAid and the Sabrata Local Crisis Committee to evaluate the needs of Libyan nationals displaced by the clashes, some of whom have started to return to their homes.

“We are ready to provide support to Libyans who have been displaced by recent fighting, including those who have returned home and are in need of urgent assistance,” concluded Mignone.