A new facility for refugees has opened in Tripoli, Libya, aiming to offer a safe alternative to detention while people await long-term solutions such as resettlement and evacuation.

Set up by the UNHCR, in coordination with the Libyan government and aid partners, the Gathering and Departure Facility is the first centre of its kind in Libya.

It is intended to bring vulnerable refugees to a safe environment while solutions including refugee resettlement, family reunification, evacuation to emergency facilities in other countries, return to a country of previous asylum, and voluntary repatriation are sought for them.

The centre is managed by the Libyan interior ministry, UNHCR, and UNHCR’s partner LibAid.

The initiative is one of a range of measures aiming to offer viable alternatives to the dangerous boat journeys undertaken by refugees and migrants along the Central Mediterranean route.

With an estimated 5,200 refugees and migrants held in detention centres across Libya, including 3,950 in need of international protection, the GDF is a critical alternative to bring the most vulnerable, including women, children and the sick, out of detention.