Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns of further sanctions against Russia

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Chelsea’s Torres set for AC Milan switch

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' on potential Syria strikes

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Pakistan army to mediate between PM, protesters

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

Africa

UN refugee agency told to leave country

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-06-08

Libya ordered the UN refugee agency UNHCR to shut its office in the country on Tuesday. This comes a year after Italy and Libya agreed to intercept illegal migrants to Europe and return them to Libya, evoking criticism from rights groups.

AFP - Libyan authorities have ordered the UN refugee agency to shut its office in Libya and leave the country, an agency spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
  
"We have received instructions by the Libyan government for UNHCR to cease its activities in Libya, basically we've been instructed to close our office there," said Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
  
"We have not been given any reason by Libyan authorities for why we should leave the country," she told journalists. They gave notice last week but no deadline was set, Fleming added.
  
The North African state is a hub for refugees from sub-Saharan Africa as well as the Middle East seeking to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
  
Last year, Italy and Libya reached an agreement that allows the Italian navy to intercept illegal migrants at sea and return them to Libya, triggering sharp criticism from the UNHCR and human rights groups.
  
"I think all European governments using Libya as a place where people fleeing from war and persecution could be received would have to review this carefully if UNHCR is no longer present there," Fleming commented.
  
The Council of Europe's anti torture watchdog warned in April that Italy was violating Europe's human rights convention by pushing boatloads of migrants back to Libyan shores, saying they faced the risk of maltreatment there.
  
The UNHCR currently provides registration, care, shelter, training and seeks resettlement elsewhere for asylum seekers and refugees who reach Libya, including Iraqis, Palestinians, Sudanese, Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis.
  
"Basically UNHCR is the asylum system in Libya and this will create a huge vacuum for the thousands of refugees and asylum seekers who are there already and of course those who continue to arrive... every week," Fleming warned.
  
The Geneva-based agency has registered about 9,000 refugees and some 3,700 asylum seekers in Libya, although there are thought to be more in the country.
  
The UNHCR also expressed concern that it took 24 hours to rescue a boatload of more than 20 mainly Eritreans, including an eight year-old, in the Mediterranean.
  
Fleming said distress calls were received from the boat about 40 nautical miles (74 kilometres) from Italy late Sunday and passed on to Italian and Maltese authorities.
  
But they relied on Libyan vessels to conduct the rescue inside Malta's search and rescue area instead of intervening and taking the boat to a closer port, she claimed.
  
"This could have resulted in a dramatic human tragedy and we are asking why," said Fleming.
  
The refugee agency was also concerned about the Eritreans' "access to international protection in Libya," which has not signed the 1951 international convention on refugees "and has no domestic asylum system," she added.
  

Date created : 2010-06-08

COMMENT(S)