Refugee dilemma: UN refugee boss says it’s not numbers; it is people that matters

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EYEAFRICA TV: Tripoli, LIBYA: During his two-day visit to Libya, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi held a solemn moment of silence on Monday on the Libyan coast to remember the thousands of women, men and children who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in search of safety and a better life.

Grandi said at the engagement that there is a lot of talk about numbers but said to him, he thinks it is not about numbers but about people. “These are women. These are men. These are children.” He said they are desperate people that are risking their lives and often losing their lives in search of a better future.

He said for many of them, the end is tragic, and “I think it’s particularly those that have lost their lives that we want to remember here and now on this jetty.”

Grandi visited the Abu Setta Naval Base where more than 80 per cent of refugees and migrants intercepted offshore by Libyan Coast Guards are disembarked. At that site, and others in Libya, United Nations refugee agency UNHCR and its partners provide support to meet the basic and immediate needs of those taken ashore, including medical aid.

The Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) has as of 18 June 2018, disembarked 7,323 refugees and migrants intercepted at sea. UNHCR and its partner International Medical Corps provide primary healthcare, hygiene kits and identified persons in need of international protection both at the disembarkation point and at the detention centre where they are subsequently transferred by the authorities.

UNHCR’s primary objective when intervening at disembarkation points in Libya is to save lives, as well as ensure the early identification and immediate protection of UNHCR persons of concern, mainly refugees and asylum-seekers.

As part of the responses to mixed migration movements by sea, appropriate disembarkation and reception arrangements are needed to make sure that the immediate basic needs of people involved in such movements can be met and tailored according to their specific needs. UNHCR undertakes protection monitoring in all disembarkation points and provides assistance in six.

It has notably contributed to the improvement of reception conditions at those six through the construction of water and sanitation facilities, health posts and shaded areas to protect refugees and migrants from the elements, including rain and high temperatures.

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