A group of 33 unaccompanied children fleeing Libya during the crisis have arrived in Norway for a resettlement process.
Libya had been engulfed by fighting since a pro-democracy movement opposed to the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi emerged in February 2011 following similar protests in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries across North Africa and the Middle East.
The children refugees spent months in a refugee camp in Tunisia after fleeing last year’s turmoil in Libya.
UN Photo/OCHA/David Ohana
The resettlement process was spearheaded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The children left for Norway on Sunday. They were among 90 youngsters who arrived in Tunisia from Libya unaccompanied. Some of them may have lost their parents or were separated during their flight from the chaos in Libya.
Most of the children are originally from Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia or Eritrea.
The UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards reported that the children have been staying in Tunisia’s Choucha camp, which is home to 3,400 refugees. The children had relied on help from friends and relatives, as well as local and international aid workers.
In total, 39 of the 90 children have now been resettled – mostly in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
“As they had formed strong bonds among each other, the departure has been painful for many of them – not least those still awaiting resettlement. “ -Mr. Edwards
He noted that life at Choucha camp remains difficult, with windswept conditions and bitter cold.
Resettlement referrals for both residents of Choucha and Saloum have been submitted and accepted by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the United States.
UNHCR is providing assistance at Choucha and works with the children and their communities to establish the best interests of each child.
UNHCR is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It also has a mandate to help stateless people.
Libya is one of many countries across North Africa and the Middle East where popular uprisings and widespread protests have taken place in 2011.