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Libya orders UNHCR to close

June 8, 2010

UNHCR announced today that the Libyan government has ordered it “to close its office in that country and halt activities.”

Libya was UNHCR’s fourth largest refugee status determination operation in the world in 2008, with close to 5000 applications. UNHCR-Libya employed 26 staff.

One of the most repressive states in the Middle East, Libya has been a transit point for African asylum-seekers trying to reach Europe by boat, especially those from the Horn of Africa. A sinking boat with more than 20 people, mostly Eritreans, was intercepted recently by the Libyan authorities.

The migration route for Eritreans and Sudanese refugees has been described as a river with two branches, with one route leading to Egypt and Israel, and the other to Libya and Italy. Last year Italy reached a migration control agreement with Libya and began deporting arrivals back to Libya.

  1. Ewen Macmillan permalink
    June 9, 2010 3:02 pm

    Is there any evidence, published or unpublished but corroborated, of Italian or EU understandings with Libya on the closure of UNHCR’s office? What contacts has Frontex had with Libya in 2010?

  2. June 10, 2010 4:55 am

    There’s some interesting additional insight about the political context here:’s-decision-to-expel-unhcr/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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