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UN halts refugee center operations in Tripoli, Libya over safety fears

UN halts refugee center operations in Tripoli, Libya over safety fears

The United Nations said on Thursday it was suspending its operations at a refugee reception center in Tripoli over safety fears as the conflict in the country worsens. The UNHCR’s Chief of Mission in Libya, Jean-Paul Cavalieri said the decision had been taken after the organization learned that military and police training exercises were taking place just outside the facility, AFP reported.

“We fear that the entire area could become a military target, further endangering the lives of refugees, asylum seekers and other civilians,” he said. The UN-recognized government in Tripoli has been under attack since April by forces loyal to eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar.

The UN refugee agency expressed deep safety concerns on January 2 after three mortar shells fell close to the Gathering and Departure Facility.

Since December 2018, nearly 1,700 formerly detained refugees have been evacuated out of Libya to safety through the GDF. The agency said Thursday it would help facilitate the evacuation of the hundreds of people remaining at the center who did not fall in the most vulnerable category to urban areas.