United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 1997 - Libya, 1 January 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a8a21c.html [accessed 23 May 2015]
This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
More than 6,300 refugees in Libya were registered with UNHCR at the end of 1996, including 4,100 Palestinians, 2,100 from Somalia, and about 100 others. More than 20,000 unregistered Palestinian refugees were believed to be present in Libya at year's end. Palestinians During 1995, Libyan ruler Muammar elQaddafi expelled thousands of Palestinians from Libya to express his displeasure with talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Some 250 of those expelled during 1995 remained stranded on the Libya-Egypt border throughout 1996, unable to travel through Egypt and unwilling to return to Libya. Large numbers of Palestinians who remained in Libya were fired from their jobs. During 1996, thousands approached UNHCR, seeking assistance. UNHCR considers Palestinians living outside the UNRWA-mandate area, including those in Libya, to be prima facie refugees, and thus does not conduct individual status determinations for Palestinians. Other Refugees Libya is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, nor does it have procedures for determining refugee status. UNHCR has conducted interviews to determine whether some individuals fall within its mandate. The actual number of refugees in Libya is probably much greater than UNHCR's official numbers indicate. Libya's traditional open-door policy toward nationals of many African and Middle Eastern countries has provided de facto asylum for many persons. Deteriorating economic conditions in Libya, however, have affected refugees and other foreigners. In recent years, Libya has expelled thousands of Africans; it was unclear if any feared returning to their homelands. About 2,100 of the 6,300 UNHCR-registered refugees in Libya were from Somalia. Some 1,200 Somalis lived in a UNHCR reception center in Tripoli. During 1996, UNHCR assisted in the repatriation of 873 Eritreans, 156 Ethiopians, and five Rwandans from Libya. Because of an international air embargo against Libya, most of the repatriations were carried out via Tunisia. During 1996, no refugees were resettled from Libya.