West Africa - SahelBlog AnalysisBorders Immigration Asylum

From Libya to Niger, to Europe. What about the emergency evacuation transit mechanism?

(B2) Led by the High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), financed by the European Union, thehe emergency evacuation transit mechanism has resumed its evacuations of vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees from Libyan prisons. Resettlement, however, remains complicated

Niger had stopped its collaboration for almost two months, between March and May. B2 takes stock with the UNHCR office in Niamey, Niger.

Women evacuated from Tripoli to Niger, May 2018 © UNHCR/Tarik Argaz

When did this program start?

The program began in November 2017, when the first flight of migrants evacuated from Libya landed in Niger. It then carries 25 people. On Wednesday (June 20), the thirteenth flight landed, with 122 refugees. On board, the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, to mark International Refugee Day (1).

Who and how many people have since been evacuated?

1287 people followed the same route - from Libya to Niger -, indicates the UNHCR office in Niamey. A small number of migrants were evacuated to Italy (312 people) and to a transit center in Romania (10 people). In total, the number of asylum seekers or refugees evacuated from Libya reached 1609. All were spotted by the UNHCR in Libyan detention centers. UNHCR chose the most vulnerable among those in need of international protection.

Where are they resettled?

The vast majority of 'evacuees' pass through Niger, where the wait for a third country where they can be resettled is prolonged, due to a lack of possible transfer. Of the 1287 people evacuated to Niger, only 174 were resettled (assessment as of mid-June 2018) in another country.

How many asylum seekers have headed to Europe?

Very little ! Barely 170 (counting the Libyan refugees resettled since September, without necessarily passing through Niger). Eleven countries, including eight from the EU (France, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Malta and United Kingdom + Norway, Switzerland, Canada), have committed to welcoming refugees evacuated from Libya via Niger. For a total of 3781 places. Only five countries (France, Finland, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden) have actually already resettled them.

What are the limitations of the device?

UNHCR has the right of access to official government-run detention centers in Libya. He does not have access to other centers, which are under the control of certain militias, or even traffickers. According to migrants' testimonies, many of those evacuated passed through these illegal centers for long periods of time, before even reaching the other centers.

Niger obliged to bang its fist on the table!

UNHCR is looking for other countries to host refugees on a temporary basis. Because Niger's capacities are quickly saturated. In March, failing to see the migrants leave, the country decided to suspend their reception. The government only authorized the resumption of evacuation flights at the beginning of May. Since then, new flights have arrived in Niamey from Libya. But the capacity to welcome new refugees depends on the release of new places. Today, Niger's transit center can only accommodate 68 additional refugees.

(Emmanuelle Stoesser)

Lire: Resettlement of migrants from camps in Libya blocked… for lack of reception places (UNHCR)

Learn more. To download : UNHCR resettlement update (as of June 11, 2018) and the communicated UNHCR on June 20 on the first flight


Niger, first beneficiary of the trust fund

Labor MEP Linda McAvan, chair of the European Parliament's Development Committee (DEVE), recalled this on Tuesday (June 19), during a hearing on the impacts of EU external funding on migration. Niger, “ was, at the end of 2017, the largest recipient of contributions from the EU-Africa Trust Fund (national projects) ».

Download the trust fund report 2017 for Africa (European Commission).

Emmanuelle Stroesser

A journalist for magazines and the press, Emmanuelle specializes in humanitarian issues, development, asylum and migration and human rights.