Alternatives to Detention in Libya and Solutions for Vulnerable Refugees

UNHCR steps up efforts towards alternatives to detention in Libya and solutions for vulnerable refugees

Libya continues to present one of the most complex mixed migration situations in the world, with refugees traveling alongside migrants through perilous routes, surviving dangerous desert crossings and abuses that include sexual violence, torture, detention in inhumane conditions and abductions for ransom.

All this before they even embark on the deadly sea passage to Italy, where the risk of dying is one in 39. Libya is also in the middle of a conflict that has displaced hundreds of thousands of Libyans.

While irregular mixed migration movements may represent challenges for states, detention is not the answer. As a refugee protection agency, UNHCR is opposed to the routine detention of refugees and displaced persons and has been very outspoken, including at the highest level, on the appalling conditions in which refugees and migrants are being held in Libya’s detention centres.

During a recent visit to Tripoli, for example, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, met refugees and migrants in detention centres and expressed his “shock at the harsh conditions in which refugees and migrants are held”, adding that no refugees or asylum seekers should be detained.

At the same time, UNHCR is currently negotiating with the Libyan authorities the establishment of an open reception centre that would allow refugees and asylum seekers freedom of movement, giving priority to the most vulnerable among them. In this reception centre, UNHCR could provide registration, accommodation, food, social services, counselling and support to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and solutions in third countries for the most vulnerable.

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