Monday

20th Nov 2017

Nepal units arrive in Libya to guard UN refugee agency

  • Libya has around 43,000 recognised refugees (Photo: USEmbMalta)

UN guards from Nepal have arrived in Libya as part of a security detail to keep staff safe from harm.

They will be guarding people inside compounds working for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and other UN missions. Others are waiting for deployment.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"There is still some technical problems with clearance of their weapons and that sort of thing," said a representative of an international organisation in Brussels on Tuesday (17 October).

UN officials in early September had announced anywhere between 150 to 250 units in the coming weeks.

Their arrival last week highlights the general insecurity and chaos that continues to reign throughout much of the country, as armed militia groups terrorise broad swathes of the population and complicate EU efforts to stem migration flows.

Some 220,000 Libyans remain displaced because of the fighting. Libya is also the main departure point for migrants and refugees leaving for Europe. Over 109,000 landed in Italy from Libya since the start of the year.

The EU is backing and supporting the work by the UNHCR and the Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Both organisations have been in Libya for the past couple of years but turmoil has broadly restricted international staff access.

The IOM has 230 national staff throughout the country but has to rotate international staff every few days given UN security rules.

The past few days has seen intense fighting in and around the coastal city of Sabratha, where some 14,500 migrants and refugees were being held captive by criminal gangs.

All will go to any number of the 24 notorious detention centres run by Libyan authorities. Another 6,000 are thought to be missing.

A lucky few may end up being resettled as refugees elsewhere or sent home, if they are economic migrants.

The IOM has so far returned, since the start of the year, around 8,500 economic migrants on a voluntary basis to their home countries.

Once home, the IOM says they are further supported with integration programmes.

Most are flown from Tripoli but others are also sent from Benghazi and Sabha in the south of the country. The aim is to return up to 15,000 before the end of the year. In 2016, they managed 2,600. Up to 30 percent of those returned are not from a detention centre.

The UNHCR, however, is finding it difficult to resettle people directly from Libya.

People who are officially recognised by the UN as refugees can be resettled to another country, where they receive protection. Libya has 43,000 but only 39 have so far found a home in 2017. All in Canada.

The plan is to start evacuating many more from Libya to Niger and then have them resettled from there.

Despite being a main transit country to Libya, only one person has been resettled from Niger in the past four years.

Many are now avoiding Agadez, a major smuggling hub, and are instead going to Arlit in the north west before crossing into Algeria and then to Libya.

The UN refugee agency will not start evacuations from Libya to Niger until November and not until more member states commit to take in people from Niger. So far, only Canada, France and Sweden have agreed.

EU member states slow to pledge

The European commission is pressing EU states to pledge 50,000 spaces for resettlement up until 2019.

"So far we have received 24,000 pledges from the member states because they have until the end of the month to make the pledge," said a senior EU official.

He noted 12 member states have so far made the pledges. Austria, with its new anti-immigration chancellor Sebastian Kurz, is not one of them.

This article was updated on Thursday (19 October) to note that the UN is sending guards and not troops and they will be providing protection also to other UN missions inside the compounds

Opinion

The unbearable lightness of leadership

Politicians and civic leaders need a new sense of optimism if they are to avoid mere 'sticking plaster' solutions to migration.

UN criticises EU policy in Libya as 'inhuman'

The EU's policy of helping the Libyan coast guard to return people plucked from the sea is "inhuman", says the UN's human rights chief, given that most end up in dire conditions.

EU seeks to shut down Libya sea route

EU leaders are aiming to reach a consensus on the Dublin asylum reforms by early next year, announced European Council chief Donald Tusk. But first, they want to shut down the Central Mediterranean route from Libya.

UN criticises EU policy in Libya as 'inhuman'

The EU's policy of helping the Libyan coast guard to return people plucked from the sea is "inhuman", says the UN's human rights chief, given that most end up in dire conditions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  2. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  3. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  5. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  6. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  7. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  9. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  10. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. Barnier: UK must come up with Ireland solution
  2. Tusk's 'Kremlin' tweet prompts Polish uproar
  3. German coalition talks collapse
  4. Decision day for EU agencies relocation race
  5. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  6. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  7. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  8. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal