See also:
» 27.04.2011 - Niger, Chad receive 75,000 refugees from Libya
» 04.03.2011 - Fleeing Africans tell tales of Libyan horror
» 02.03.2011 - "Kenya, Niger, Mali troops support Ghaddafi"
» 28.02.2011 - Africans hunted down in "liberated" Libya
» 26.02.2011 - African mercenaries in Libya: Fact or racism?
» 23.02.2011 - Exodus from Libya; foreigners targeted
» 10.06.2010 - UN negotiates return of agency to Libya
» 08.06.2010 - Libya kicks out UN refugee agency

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Human rights | Society

Evacuation of scared Africans from Libya starts

African migrant reaching Salum in Egypt after having fled the unrest in Libya

© Ahmed Rady/IOM/afrol News
afrol News, 3 March
- An international operation to evacuate the most vulnerable migrants from "liberated Libya" started today. African migrants told stories of horror and fear for racist attacks.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) today in a statement forwarded to afrol News reports that its vessel has arrived the "liberated" city of Benghazi, aiming at evacuating "particularly vulnerable migrants, mostly women, children and those in need of medical assistance."

Approximately 5,500 migrants had so far been identified by the IOM mission "at various locations at the port and surrounding warehouses." Many of these migrants where from Ghana and Sudan, but also large groups of Asians were among those hiding close to the Benghazi port.

IOM in Benghazi said that, upon talking to the migrants, many had remained where they were either because "they were afraid or because they were unaware of assistance being offered at the Egyptian border." Many of the migrants, particularly those from sub-Saharan Africa do not have documents, which would make it difficult to cross the border.

Many Africans reported they were "afraid to leave their homes for fear of being targeted." They, along with other migrants stranded in Libya, were "in a dire situation" and needed to be evacuated "as quickly as possible," the IOM team in Benghazi reported.

In an impassioned plea to the IOM, an African migrant told the team that "between 6,000 and 10,000 migrants were trapped in Al-Khoms. They included West Africans, Chinese, Filipinos and among them were families and pregnant women. Stores were running out of food, people were increasingly getting sick and fear of repercussions against foreigners meant that they were too

African migrant in Salum in Egypt after having fled the unrest in Libya

© Ahmed Rady/IOM/afrol News
afraid to step out of doors."

Large groups of sub-Saharan Africans and other migrants were stranded in the Libyan cities of Sirte, Tripoli, Wazem and Misrata, as well as elsewhere, the IOM team was told. "Many are without documents and passports, which had been taken by their employers," they added.

With an escort from the Libyan Red Crescent, the IOM now will start evacuating small groups of migrants by road to the Egyptian border at Salum, where on average about 3,000 people are arriving from inside Libya until sea evacuations are organised to Alexandria in Egypt.

Especially Africans and Asians living and working in Libya have so far been abandoned by their employers and overlooked by most evacuation efforts. Few African and Asian countries - with the exception of China and South Africa - have been able to afford a rescue operation for their nationals stranded in Libya.

Africans so far, despite increased reports of systematic attacks from interim authorities and civilian Libyans, have been left to find their way out of Libya on their own. Many have poured into Niger, crossing the Sahara desert. Niger has ordered its Tripoli embassy to issue travel documents free of charge. Chad is preparing reception centres for returning migrants.

But the majority of Africans living in Libya - set at many hundreds of thousands - are reported to have gone into hiding, fearing attacks from Libyans believing they are "mercenaries". Many report of lack of food and other supplies as they do not dare to leave their shelter.

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