Posted by: africanpressorganization | 4 March 2011

Race to Evacuate Thousands of Migrants Caught Up by Libyan Violence Continues Apace





Race to Evacuate Thousands of Migrants Caught Up by Libyan Violence Continues Apace



GENEVA, Switzerland, March 4, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM Press Briefing Note

More than 640 migrants were evacuated from the Libyan port city of Benghazi by IOM yesterday, 3 March.

The migrants, all Bangladeshi, were taken in a road convoy by IOM and escorted by the Libyan Red Crescent to the Egyptian border crossing at Salum where IOM is providing humanitarian assistance including food, water, health care and other aid. IOM will then organize for their return home to Bangladesh in the days to come.

Another 300 migrants are being evacuated today, including 40 particularly vulnerable West African migrants. Fearing for their lives given the targeting of Sub-Saharan Africans and desperate to leave Libya, they had paid a human smuggler to take them to Egypt in a sealed and refrigerated truck.

In the past few days, IOM staff had located several thousand migrant workers from many nationalities in the port at Benghazi and the surrounding warehouses with the largest groups comprising Bangladeshi, Indian and Sudanese migrants. This morning, another 500 Bangladeshi migrants arrived at the port compound in a two-hour period.

As efforts to urgently evacuate those stranded in Libya continue, IOM is today evacuating a further 3,100 Egyptians from Djerba to Cairo after assisting nearly 2,600 Egyptians on Thursday. IOM is also organizing another two flights today to take the increasing number of Bangladeshi migrants who are now arriving in Tunis back to Dhaka.

The IOM-chartered vessel the Habib arrived in Alexandria today carrying 1,450 Egyptian migrant workers from the port of Sfax in Tunisia.

In the early hours of Friday, at least 6,000 Bangladeshi migrants arrived at Ras Adjir in addition to about 350 Pakistanis and 150 Vietnamese migrants who were taken by IOM staff to a UNHCR transit camp a few kilometres away. There are also reports of a large number of migrants approaching the border area who are expected to arrive imminently.

African migrants crossing the border in particular are recounting bitter tales of targeted treatment in Libya. Some Eritreans told IOM that in the 160kms from Tripoli to the Tunis border, they had been stopped 20 times and totally dispossessed of all their money and belongings. A Chadian migrant recounted the increasing violence at night-time in Tripoli that had led to great terror among him and others.

In Egypt, IOM has so far evacuated 1,025 migrants, mostly Bangladeshi but also including Ghanaian and other West African and Asian nationals.



International Office of Migration (IOM)


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