Posted by: africanpressorganization | 1 March 2011

Evacuation of Migrants Fleeing Violence in Libya Gathers Momentum





Evacuation of Migrants Fleeing Violence in Libya Gathers Momentum



GENEVA, Switzerland, March 1, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM Press Briefing Note

IOM’s sea and air evacuation of migrants from Tunisia’s border region with Libya is gathering momentum.

Earlier today, a group of 1,450 Egyptians left overcrowded facilities at Ras Adjir on their way to the sea port of Sfax, where they will board an IOM-chartered vessel that will take them to Alexandria in Egypt.

IOM’s air evacuation of Egyptians also continues today with an additional five charter flights scheduled to leave from the island of Djerba carrying about 900 people.

Additional flights are also scheduled to assist Bangladeshi migrant workers who have managed to cross into Tunisia.

IOM is also working with the Bangladeshi Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare for the arrival of a group of some 2,000 Bangladeshi nationals who remain stranded on the Libyan side of the border. Reports say the Bangladeshis are exhausted and are in urgent need of food, water and shelter.

“With thousands of migrants still awaiting authorization to enter Tunisia, there is an urgent need to decongest the border area which lacks adequate facilities to host large numbers of people,” says Marc Petzold, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Tunisia.     
In the meantime, IOM is providing assistance to a group of some 1,000 Vietnamese migrant workers who arrived in Ras Adjir last night. They will be transferred in the coming hours to a transit centre set up some 5 kms inside the border.     

Amid chaotic scenes at the border, IOM field staff managed to identify other Third Country Nationals (TCNs) in urgent need of assistance, including Nepalese, Ghanaians and Nigerians who were sleeping rough in freezing temperatures.

In Egypt, where some 7,000 Egyptian migrants alone are in the reception centre at the border crossing at Salum, the situation is also difficult.
A group of 216 Ghanaians were transferred from Salum to Cairo where they boarded an IOM-chartered flight for Ghana. The group is expected to arrive later this afternoon in Accra.  

Three IOM charter flights transporting 750 Bangladeshi migrants will also depart within the next 24 hours for Dhaka.

Meanwhile, IOM has received reports of many thousands of migrants stranded at Benghazi port waiting desperately to leave. More migrants are due to arrive. Although the local community is providing assistance to them, the cold weather is having an effect on their health and food supplies are running low.

IOM is continuing to work on organizing an evacuation of the migrants from Benghazi to the Egyptian port of Alexandria by boat. Assistance would involve providing support for travel to the embarkation point, issuing travel documents where necessary, sea transport as well as reception and onward travel assistance to final destinations in Egypt.

In neighbouring Niger, staff in an IOM’s migrant reception and transit centre in Dirkou are preparing for the arrival later this week of an estimated 2,000 Nigeriens and other African nationals who have recently managed to cross Libya’s southern border at Gatrone.

A convoy transporting 1,154 nationals from Niger has already left Dirkou for the northern city of Agadez. The group is expected to arrive later tomorrow.
IOM is working with local authorities and partners including UNICEF, ICRC and MSF Spain to set up a transit centre in Agadez.
“We are looking into providing assistance to the Nigeriens to help them return to their homes in the capital Niamey and to the southern regions of Maradi, Zinder and Tahoua,” says Abibatou Wane, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Niger.     
IOM is urgently appealing for an initial US$11 million to assist migrants caught out by the violence in Libya and who are in dire need of evacuation and repatriation assistance.


International Office of Migration (IOM)


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