In a small compound of buildings on a quiet road in Misrata, there’s a flurry of excitement and activity as asylum seekers and refugees celebrate World Refugee Day by holding art workshops activities. It’s a welcome diversion for residents here, helping to take their minds off anxieties about their future and waiting for news about when they might be able to leave Libya.
They’ve all had very difficult journeys to reach this point. And while the shelter offers a welcome safe space for them, the final end to their journey is still not quite within reach.
More than 40 refugees and asylum seekers – around a third of whom are children - are staying at the Libyan Red Crescent shelter, with UNHCR’s partner, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) providing protection and medical care, including psychosocial assistance, to support the group. Funding for the running costs of the shelter, including the provision of health services and food, is provided by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.
Ressettlement remains a vital life-saving tool for many refugees but most refugees here are awaiting resettlement.
“Waiting is the hardest part”, confided mother-of-three, Mona*, a Sudanese refugee, who is cradling her youngest, five-month old Nada*. “We were supposed to be resettled to Norway, where we have a relative, at the beginning of the year; but the date was rescheduled and we don’t know when we can leave.” Her husband, Mohamed*, nods in agreement. “We were afraid that because of COVID19 we might never have the chance to go to Norway.”
The shelter was first used as a temporary solution – a place where asylum seekers and refugees could stay for a few days, pending resettlement and evacuation flights out of Libya. But the Misrata shelter has been a temporary home to the group of refugees now for many months. Improvements have recently been carried out at the shelter, including upgrading bathroom facilities, and providing playground equipment for the children. Peoples’ hopes of an imminent departure were dashed due to border closures around the world, because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Due to countries drastically reducing or closing entry to their territories, EU's partners UNHCR and IOM were forced to announce in March the temporary suspension of flights globally because of COVID movement restrictions. It is only now (June 18) that the agencies announced flight movements would resume in a safe manner as international travel starts to open up again. The need for increased resettlement opportunities is more urgent than ever, amid record displacement. UNHCR continues to call for more countries to offer resettlement places and speed up processes, to help the agency evacuate more refugees in need to safety, so that greater numbers of refugees can find long-lasting solutions. The agency also urges States to consider family reunification as a separate, complementary pathway to resettlement.
*Names have been changed for protection reasons
You can check the whole story at UNHCR Libya Facebook account page too: https://www.facebook.com/UNHCRTripoli/posts/1035129383551359
- Publication date
- 30 June 2020
- Region and Country
- Improved migration management