Posted by: africanpressorganization | 15 March 2011

Increasing Tension as Migrants Fleeing Libya Await Evacuation Home





Increasing Tension as Migrants Fleeing Libya Await Evacuation Home



GENEVA, Switzerland, March 15, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM Press Notes

There is growing tension and frustration among thousands of migrants stranded at Libya’s borders with Tunisia and Egypt desperate to be evacuated home.

More than 22,000 migrants are at either Ras Adjir on the Tunisian-Libyan border or at Salum, on the Egyptian-Libyan border, impatient to be evacuated. Thousands of migrants have been at the border areas for many days, where freezing night-time temperatures, difficult shelter and sanitation conditions as well as the trauma of their flight from Libya have taken their toll.

Although IOM and partners including many governments and UNHCR have assisted nearly 30,000 migrants to return home so far, with another 4,100 to be evacuated today, 15 March, little headway will be achieved in reducing the large numbers at the border areas unless significant new funding is provided urgently.

“On Monday, IOM evacuated nearly 4,000 migrants to Bangladesh, Mali, Sudan and other countries. However, the night before, 7,580 people fled Libya. The maths is clear. Evacuations have to be dramatically scaled up to deal with an outflow of people that is not going to stop for the foreseeable future,” says Mohammed Abdiker, IOM Director of Operations.

“We want to be able to evacuate 6,000 people daily. But for that IOM urgently needs donors to provide substantial new funding quickly, especially as we are made aware of more and more migrants in need of help both inside and outside of Libya,” he adds.

This includes a group of 800 Ghanaians forced out of their homes and onto the beaches of the Libyan city of Misrata, the Ghanaian government has told IOM. The migrants have reportedly been told they had two days to leave the country.
However, an IOM appeal for US$49.2 million has only been 48 per cent funded with donations from the Australian, Austrian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Swiss, British and US governments as well as from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) office and the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

The Organization now has enough funds to continue evacuations for another few days only.

More than 285,000 people have crossed into Tunisia, Egypt, Niger and Algeria since the crisis began.

A UN team in Tripoli reported seeing large numbers of migrants inside the airport and in makeshift camps outside it with truckloads of mostly African migrants en route to the Tunisian border.

The increase in the number of Africans reaching Libya’s borders in recent days has been a positive development. IOM had been particularly concerned in the first few weeks of the crisis at the low numbers of African migrants successfully getting to border areas given their targeting inside Libya.

After Bangladeshi migrants, Ghanaians now represent the second largest migrant group in need of assistance with Malians and Sudanese following suit.

Tuesday’s evacuations will focus on assisting Ghanaians and Malians as well as Bangladeshis.

IOM is also working hard to assist more than 800 Senegalese, Mauritanian and Bangladeshi migrants stranded on the Algerian-Libyan border, the majority of them at Ain Amenas about 1,000 kms south-east from Algiers.

Since the start of the crisis, nearly 9,100 migrants have fled to Algeria with the Algerian government having evacuated 2,770 of them.


International Office of Migration (IOM)


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