UN Agency Said to be Ordered Out of Libya

A group of Africans, some who are refugees or asylum-seekers, try to reach Europe from Libya. Libyan authorities ordered the closure of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in their country. Photo by: M. Alwash / UNHCR

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Libya said it was being ordered to leave the country.

Melissa Fleming, the U.N. agency’s spokesperson, said the country has yet give them a reason for the expulsion. Tripoli has not issued a statement regarding the decision.

“UNHCR is the asylum system in Libya. 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,” she said, according to BBC News.

Libya and the UNHCR had different approaches in addressing the issue of refugees and asylum seekers. There is speculation that the North African country views those who claim to be refugees as economic migrants.

UNHCR started operating in Libya in 1991. The agency said it still wants to continue its work for the 9,000 refugees and 3,700 asylum seekers in Libya and that it is now in negotiations to stay in the country.

About the author

  • Chiden Balmes

    Chiden, a correspondent based in Seoul, focuses on computer-assisted reporting to provide international development professionals with practical business and career information. He also contributes to the Development Newswire and the Global Development Briefing, two of the world's highest-circulation development publications.