Migrants in a boat arrive at a naval base after they were rescued by Libyan coast guards, in Tripoli, Libya. Picture: Hani Amara/Reuters

Johannesburg – The UN refugee agency has evacuated more than a 1 000 highly vulnerable refugees out of Libya since November and is working on long-term and realistic solutions for them in third countries.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported on Thursday that the latest flights left the capital, Tripoli, this week. On Tuesday they carried 128 refugees to Niger. A second plane flew 150 others to Italy on Wednesday.

Overall, 1 084 refugees have been evacuated in the three months since the start of the operation and UNHCR is calling on more countries to provide resettlement places for those still in Libya.

“These evacuations have provided a new chance at life for more than 1 000 refugees who were detained in Libya and suffered tremendously. By the end of 2018, we hope to evacuate thousands more,” said Vincent Cochetel, the agency’s Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean.

UNHCR said the 128 refugees evacuated to Niger are being accommodated in guesthouses in the capital, Niamey, thanks to cooperation from its partners and support from the government.

They will receive assistance and psychosocial support pending resettlement or other durable solutions.

A total of 770 refugees have been evacuated to the country since November, including single mothers, families and unaccompanied or separated children.

The 150 refugees flown to Rome included children and women who UNHCR said had been held captive for lengthy periods.

The flight marked the second evacuation from Libya to Italy “and could not have happened without the strong commitment of the Italian authorities and the support of the Libyan Government,” said the UN agency statement.

So far, 312 refugees have been evacuated directly to the European country.

African News Agency/ANA