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First refugees from Libyan conflict arrive in Germany

The first of 900 refugees have arrived in Germany under a resettlement program agreed to in 2011. Nearly all of them were displaced during the conflict in Libya that deposed Moammar Gadhafi.

On Monday, the 195 refugees arrived at Hanover airport after a wait of over a year in a refugee camp in the desert in Tunisia. Germany agreed to participate in the United Nations resettlement program last year.

"We have reached particularly vulnerable people with this resettlement," said Ole Schröder, Secretary of State to the Interior Ministry, referring to the large number of families with children or newborns among the first round of refugees. "Germany has provided another important humanitarian contribution by providing long term-perspectives [for the refugees]."

For the most part, the refugees were displaced in the conflict that led to the fall of Moammar Gadhafi. They were long-term residents of Libya, but originally came from Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Iraq, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The refugees, who already went through a two-week cultural orientation in Tunisia that covered the basics of the German language, will spend a further two weeks at a camp in Germany learning more about the life that awaits them in their new country.

Most of the refugees will then move to other German states, but some will remain in Lower Saxony, of which Hanover is the capital.

mz/pfd (dpa, epd)