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U.N. evacuates refugees to Italy from Libya for first time

PRATICA DI MARE, Italy (Reuters) - The United Nations began bringing African refugees to Italy from Libya on Friday, evacuating them from detention centres whose conditions have been condemned by humanitarian groups as inhumane. Hundreds of

PRATICA DI MARE, Italy (Reuters) – The United Nations began bringing African refugees to Italy from Libya on Friday, evacuating them from detention centres whose conditions have been condemned by humanitarian groups as inhumane.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants have fled conflict or poverty at home and are now trapped in Libya, where they had hoped to pay people smugglers for passage to Europe via Italy.

It is the first time the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Libya has evacuated refugees directly to Europe. An Italian C-130 military plane landed at an airport south the capital carrying 110 women and children, and a second flight is expected to bring more than 50 people later in the day.

The African migrants, including many small children, were covered in blankets or bundled in coats as they disembarked from the plane on a chilly evening.

“We really hope other countries will follow the same path,” Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean, said in a statement after the first plane arrived.

“Some of those evacuated suffered tremendously and were held captive in inhumane conditions while in Libya. Five of these women gave birth while in detention, with only the very limited medical assistance,” Cochetel said.

The UNHCR estimates about 18,000 people are being held in detention centres for immigrants that are controlled by the Tripoli government and it aims to evacuate as many as 10,000 next year.

Italy’s Catholic Church will house many of the new arrivals in shelters across the country, Church charity Caritas said, as the migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen go through the country’s asylum request process.

Migrant arrivals to Italy have fallen by two-thirds since July from the same period last year after officials working for the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli persuaded human smugglers in the city of Sabratha to stop boats leaving.

Italy is also bolstering the Libyan coast guard’s ability to turn back boats.

Italy’s move to open a safe corridor for some of the migrants follows criticism by rights groups who have condemned the country’s efforts to block migrants in Libya in exchange for aid, training and equipment to fight smuggling.

“This should be a point of pride for Italians,” Interior Minister Marco Minniti told reporters on the tarmac. “This is the just beginning. We will continue to try to open this humanitarian corridor.”

Migrant smuggling has flourished since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, with more than 600,000 making the perilous journey across the central Mediterranean in four years.

Tens of thousands of migrants are estimated to be detained by smugglers, and the African Union says that as many as 700,000 migrants are in Libya. The UNHCR has registered more than 44,000 as refugees and asylum seekers.

The UNHCR classifies Friday’s arrivals as “vulnerable” refugees, which means they are children, victims of abuse, women, the elderly or have disabilities.

Reporting by Roberto Mignucci and Steve Scherer Editing by Jeremy Gaunt


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Review overview
  • Tesfai December 23, 2017

    This is the news of the Year 2017 in the Arab Islamic world:
    Slavery of black Africans is still alive in the Islamic Arab world

    ‘They sell Africans over there’: Libya’s slave trade | News |

    Nov 28, 2017 – It has been reported that hundreds of people are being auctioned in modern day slave markets in Libya for as little as $400. Libya is the main transit hub for refugees and migrants attempting to reach southern Europe by sea. They are coming from countries like Nigeria, Eritrea, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Sudan (Darfur) ….

  • Tesfai December 23, 2017

    Breaking News: from the Arab Streets:

    When the Arabic and Islamic people heard about the slavery, abuse and beheading of thousands of African asylum seekers and migrants in Egypt-Sinai, Sudan and especially the slave market in the Arab and Muslim Libya, millions of Arab Muslims went to streets of Cairo, Tripoli, Benghazi, Alexandria, Dubai, West Bank Palestine, Khartoum, Riyadh, Kuwait City, Baghdad, Tunis …. as far as Afghanistan and Pakistan, in all Arab and Muslim lands, to condemn the slavery of Africans in Libya and the Arab world “by the Jews people of Israel”.

    They all asked – “why is Israel and the Jewish people still selling black Africans to slavery? The Arab world must take military action on Israel.”
    We, the Arabic people and their slave Abids are proud of our Arabic masters.


    PS: When will the Arabs and their slave Abids cry for the enslaved Africans to receive proper treatment in the savage Arabic world? or, as usual, will their servants bark back like an obedient dog to protect the name of their savage Arab masters.

  • Tesfai December 23, 2017

    When I read the savage slavery of black Africans and Eritreans in the Arab world, YG’s memorable poem comes to mind:

    ምሓሸና ‘ዶ ?

    ቆልዑ ትሩቡሊ እንዳኣጓየዩ፣
    “ዓብድ ! ዓብድ !” እንዳበሉ፤
    ኤርትራዊ ሓሰበ ተዳሂሉ፣
    መውጽኢ እንተፈጠረሉ፤
    ልቡ ብራዕዲ ነዲሉ፣
    “ቋንቋና ዓረብ እንተዝኸውን፣”
    ምሓሸና ዶ ?
    ካብ ውርደትን ሕስረትን ?

    ምሉእ ስእልና፣
    ናይ ሉሕሉሕ ምስልና፤.
    ሓደ ይደሚ፣
    ኣብ ባዕዲ፤
    እቲ ኻልእ ይስበኽ፣.
    ብልሳን ሽምዲ።


    ከምቲ ጠቃር ወርቂ ዱባይ፣.
    ቀይሕ ደም ወርቂ ሲናይ፣.
    እቲ ሓደ ካብ ሓማድ ባይታ፣.
    እቲ ካልእ ልቢ መመዝሒቕካ፣.
    መሓውር ከርቲምካ፣
    ኣፍ ዓቢስካ፤ ሎጒምካ።.

    • k.tewolde December 24, 2017

      Tesfai,I want you to answer one question? who is dispatching these poor black Africans to the slave markets and why? remember the same markets not too long ago were all over the west coast of Africa and here in the Bayou and the Southern farm belt of USA.There is still slavery going on allover the world including sex slaves in big western and eastern urban cities covertly,why are you obsessed with this blanket Arab smear,are you criticizing the venue or the act? you are trying to say something but you not saying it straight.

    • Sagla December 24, 2017

      No 1 Abeed of Arabs in Africa is Isayas Afwerki who is leasing land and sea of Eritrea to Arabs and conspiring against our brothers in Ethiopia.