Media Statement on the current crisis in Libya

John Wilkes, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said: “We are urging countries across Europe to work together to ensure that those attempting to flee Libya and other North African countries affected by the unrest, are granted free passage across borders and can find a route to safety.

“UNHCR, which is still operating from within Libya, is reporting that refugees who have been unable to get out have been threatened, while others are being targeted and killed. Some have spoken of forced evictions and attacks on their homes. We applaud the efforts of UNHRC and other humanitarian organisations who are working hard in the region but they desperately need international support.

“Currently the situation at the Tunisian border is reaching crisis point. As always in these situations, the countries least able to offer help those who end up doing so. According to UNHCR’s own statistics more people have arrived at the Tunisian border in the last 48 hours than have arrived in the UK seeking asylum in the last year. 

“The UK Government has clearly stated that it will not simply stand-by but it is vital that in this – the 60th anniversary year of the Refugee Convention - they do all that they can to ensure that people are afforded protection when they need it most. While numbers entering Europe are currently low, we along with other European countries must be prepared to play our part.”

For more information contact Karin Goodwin or Clare Harris, media officers, on 0141 223 7927, 07734 030 763 or 07957 652 701

Notes to editors 

  1. According to the Tunisian authorities, 70-75,000 people have fled Libya to Tunisia since 20 February. There are believed to be at least 25,000 others massed on the other side of the Libyan border, waiting their turn to cross.
  2. In 2009, 24,250 people applied for asylum in the UK from countries across the world.
  3. The UN Refugees Convention was signed by countries across Europe in 1951. It was sparked by concerns that Jewish people were unable to find safe passage out of Nazi occupied countries.
  4. Scottish Refugee Council is an independent charity dedicated to providing advice and information to people seeking asylum and refugees living in Scotland. Since 1985 we have been campaigning for fair treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum, raising awareness of refugee issues through the media, arts and local communities and working hard to influence policy in both Scotland and the UK.