UNHCR Resumes Operations in Libya!

by Selamawi

Melissa Fleming, Spokesperson for the UNHCR

Melissa Fleming, Spokesperson for the UNHCR

The closure of the UNHCR bureau and the order of expulsion by the Libyan government was good reason for all the desperate asylum seekers and refugees to worry.

This action also worried the EU Parliament, the International Organization for Peace, Care and Relief (IOPCR), Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and other human rights groups.

UN Refugee Agency's spokesperson, Melissa Fleming said on June 8th, "We regret this decision as we believe UNHCR has a great deal of work to do in Libya to protect, assist and find durable solutions for the refugees there,"

Fleming added, "This will leave a huge vacuum for the thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers who are there already and, of course, those who continue to arrive steadily on boats every week."

Later in June 19, Italian Refugee Council (IRC) expressed its deep concern on the arbitrary expulsion of the Refugee Agency. It appealed to the Italian government to do its best in pressurizing its number one trade partner to allow the UN Refugee Agency to function.

IRC jointly with International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) also wrote an appeal request to the European commissioner for Home Affairs to do its best in pressurizing Libya to allow the UNHCR bureau to resume its work.

From the Libyan side, the IOPCR- a leading Libyan branch of the NGOs also expressed its deep regret on the intervention done on the activities of its partner on refugee protection.

In 17 June 2010, the EU Parliament issued a degree expressing its deep concern of the closure of the UNHCR bureau in Libya.

The EU urged the Libyan authorities to ratify Geneva Convention on refugees immediately and to allow and facilitate the running of the UNHCR activities in Libya, including the establishment of a national asylum system.

After constructive discussion with Libyan officials at senior level,
the UN Refugee Agency in Friday 25 June formally announced that the office is allowed to resume partially and handle the current caseloads at hand.

This achievement provides good grounds for the office to continue negotiating for existence in the future.

Desperate asylum seekers and refugees in Libya expressed their happiness to the resume of the UNHCR in Tripoli, and they have hopes the office will be much stronger than before.

It is good time for the agency to see deep inside itself and investigate the allegation by Libyan government for serious misconduct.

However, the partial green light given to the UNHCR bureau is good offer, but it is not enough!

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