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149 Refugees Evacuated from Libya to Italy

The UN Higher Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) said on Thursday that 149 refugees were evacuated from Libya to Italy, in cooperation with Libyan and Italian authorities.

“Amid violent clashes and a deteriorating security situation in Tripoli, 149 vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers were evacuated to safety in Rome,” UNHCR said in a statement.

The evacuated refugees are of different African nationalities, including 65 children, the UN agency said.

The statement added that “62 urban refugees from Syria, Sudan and Somalia were also evacuated from Tripoli to UNHCR’s emergency transit center in Timisoara, Romania, before traveling to their final destination in Norway.”

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The evacuation was carried out as the capital Tripoli is witnessing violent clashes between the east-based army and the UN-backed government’s forces since early April for control of the city.

Libya has become a preferred departure point for illegal immigrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe because of insecurity and chaos in the North African country following the 2011 uprising that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Shelters in Libya are crowded with thousands of illegal immigrants rescued at sea or arrested by the Libyan security services.

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