TRIPOLI, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- UN Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday said that 133 refugees, including women and children, have been evacuated from Libya to Niger.
"The UN Refugee Agency, in coordination with Libyan authorities, evacuated 133 refugees from Libya to Niger today after hosting them at a Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) which opened in Tripoli on Tuesday," the UN Support Mission in Libya said in a statement.
The new GDF, managed by the Libyan Ministry of Interior, UNHCR and the relief agency LibAid, aims to provide a safe environment for vulnerable refugees while solutions, including refugee resettlement, family reunification, evacuation to emergency facilities in other countries, return to a country of previous asylum, and voluntary repatriation, are sought for them, the statement said.
"At the facility, UNHCR and partners are providing humanitarian assistance such as accommodation, food, medical care and psychosocial support. Child-friendly spaces and dedicated protection staff are also available to ensure that refugees and asylum-seekers are adequately cared for," the statement added.
Libya has become a preferred departure point for illegal immigrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe because of insecurity and chaos in the North African country following the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Shelters in Libya are crowded with thousands of illegal immigrants rescued at sea or arrested by the Libyan security services.
During a visit to Libya in June, UNHCR commissioner Filippo Grandi said international pledges to resettle 25,000 illegal immigrants from Libya are moving slowly.