Libya defends decision to expel "illegal" UN refugee agency

13:51, June 09, 2010      

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Libya on Tuesday defended its move to shut the office of the UN refugee agency's office in Tripoli, saying it had not signed any cooperation agreement with the agency and the activities of the bureau were illegal.

Earlier on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Libyan authorities have ordered the agency to shut its office in Libya and leave the country.

"We have not been given any reason by the Libyan authorities for why we should leave the country," UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming said.

The agency has registered about 9,000 refugees in Libya, mostly from Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, the Palestinian territories, and African countries. The North African county is also hosting about 3,700 asylum seekers.

Libyan Foreign Ministry "is surprised at media reports saying that the UNHCR office at Tripoli was closed without explanation," said a statement carried by state-run Jana news agency.

"Libya had already contacted the UN Development Program (UNDP) in Tripoli to make clear that Libya does not recognize the existence of a UNHCR office on its lands, because it (Libya) is not a signatory to the 1951 convention on refugees and had not sign any cooperation agreement with the UNHCR," the statement said.

"Subsequently, any activity by the office is considered illegal, " the ministry added.

Source: Xinhua


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