Posted by: africanpressorganization | 24 February 2011

Foreign Nationals Flee Libya to Tunisia, Egypt




Foreign Nationals Flee Libya to Tunisia, Egypt



GENEVA, Switzerland, February 24, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM staff on the Ras Adjir border point between Libya and Tunisia, say that more people are crossing the border into Tunisia today than on previous days as they flee the violence in Libya.

Although migrants of various nationalities are leaving Libya through this route, the majority of those crossing are Tunisian nationals. More than 6,700 Tunisians have fled across the Ras Adjir border point in three days.  

On Tuesday (23/2) night, large numbers of Egyptian and Chinese migrant workers arrived at the border. Some 850 Egyptians are today travelling onwards to Djerba airport accompanied by IOM staff and Red Crescent volunteers. Two planes sent by the Egyptian government will transport them home.  

Some 830 Chinese workers arrived on buses rented by the Chinese consulate in Tripoli and have been taken to Tunis.

IOM staff say that those arriving at the border are mainly coming from Tripoli. They include embassy staff and the ambassadors of various countries, who have decided to quit the capital.

But they are concerned that there is no evidence of large numbers of migrant workers from Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia leaving Libya for either Tunisia or Egypt.

Large numbers of Sub-Saharan irregular migrants in Libya work informally in the service sector or as manual labour. Poorly paid and in irregular work, it is unlikely they have the resources to rent vehicles to get to border areas and reach safety.

“Of the tens of thousands of Sub-Saharan Africans and South Asians working in Libya, only a handful have managed to reach the border so far. This is probably because they do not have the resources to pay for transport,” says Laurence Hart, IOM’s Chief of Mission for Libya.

“We are very concerned for all those migrants who may wish to leave, but cannot. Many countries without the adequate resources to evacuate their nationals are now asking IOM for help.  We are therefore urgently appealing to donors for funding to allow us to intervene,” he adds.

Meanwhile the IOM office in the capital of Niger, Niamey, reports that 170 Niger nationals have crossed the border from Libya. They are currently in an IOM reception and transit centre in Dirkou, from where they will be transferred to the northern city of Agadez.

This first group says that hundreds of other Niger nationals are on their way to the border on trucks. There are reports that some of the trucks have broken down en route. IOM and Niger Red Cross are expecting several hundred new arrivals over the next few hours.

Meanwhile, a team from IOM Egypt, UNHCR and UNOCHA will tomorrow (25/2) begin an assessment on a Libyan border crossing situated close to the Egyptian town of Salum. About 15,000 Egyptians have recently crossed the border there, as well as a small number of Libyans.


International Office of Migration (IOM)



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