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Libyan Newswire

UNHCR Tunisia Operational Update – 31 May 2019

During the month of May, an increase in mixed population movements from Libya was observed, both by land and sea. UNHCR partner Tunisian Red Crescent reported 195 individuals crossing into Tunisia from Libya by land, mainly Sudanese and Somali nationals. Around half of them expressed their intention to seek asylum in Tunisia. Moreover, Tunisia Maritime authorities conducted five interception/rescue at sea operations. Some 159 third-country nationals (mainly from CAte d'Ivoire, Somalia and Bangladesh) and seven Tunisians trying to reach Europe from Libyan and Tunisian shores were brought back to Tunisia and referred to Tunisian Red Crescent for profiling. At the same time, 59 persons lost their lives in their attempts to cross the sea. UNHCR commends the open door policy of the Tunisian Government for persons fleeing neighbouring Libya due to fear of violence and persecution.

As of f 31 May 2019, 1,917 persons of concern were registered with UNHCR Tunisia. Of these, 1,054 originate from Syria while the others come mainly from Eritrea, CAte d'Ivoire, Somalia and Sudan.

Currently, there are 641 asylum seekers awaiting the outcome of refugee status determination (RSD). UNHCR is currently the sole agency responsible for RSD, pending the adoption of the national asylum law. In light of increased needs, UNHCR is in the process of strengthening its current RSD capacity, in order to reduce the waiting time for asylum-seekers.

On 11 May 2019, a Swiss delegation of Members of the National Council visited Sfax and met with a group of refugees have benefiting from livelihoods projects, through UNHCR's partnership with Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMSS). As of May 2019, 49 refugees were enrolled in the project (18 wage employment, 19 self-employed, 12 following training). These livelihoods initiatives contribute to refugees' self-reliance, helping them to rebuild a dignified life and help them plan for a future in Tunisia.

Emergency preparedness:

UNHCR and IOM conducted joint assessments with other UN Agencies, namely WHO and UNICEF, in Tatatouine and Medenine governorates. This included the evaluation of a potential site to host persons fleeing Libya, called bir fatnasseya, and the assessment of local capacity in regards to availability of water, healthcare and education services.

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees