Posted by: africanpressorganization | 5 September 2014

Displaced Migrants Face Growing Risks in Libya as Fighting Intensifies


Displaced Migrants Face Growing Risks in Libya as Fighting Intensifies


GENEVA, Switzerland, September 5, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM Libya is monitoring the growing insecurity of some 200,000 overseas migrants living and working in Tripoli, Misrata and Benghazi. They include some 7,000 individuals IOM categorizes as “vulnerable migrants” in urgent need of evacuation assistance.

Nearly 150,000 Tripoli residents made homeless by two months of ever-intensifying conflict – almost 31,000 families – have fled the city, according to the local authorities.

“The situation is difficult and evacuations are risky, but we are committed to do our utmost to help migrants living in appalling conditions in Tripoli immigration detention centers or displaced by the fighting with no food, water or sanitation,” said Othman Belbeisi, IOM Chief of Mission in Libya.

“If we don’t help those who want to return home safely, many may risk boarding unsafe boats in the hope of reaching the security of Italy,” he notes.

As Libya’s security deteriorates, IOM continues to field telephone calls from individual migrants wanting to return to their countries of origin and foreign embassies seeking help to evacuate their citizens.

In the past week IOM has received an urgent request from Pakistan’s embassy to help rescue as many as 2,000 Pakistani nationals from embattled areas of Tripoli and Benghazi and to organize their safe return to Pakistan.

According to Belbeisi, immigration detention centers in the north of the country have also either closed or migrants have been released in recent weeks due to acute shortages of supplies.

Some of the migrants are being moved to centers further south. Others feel they have little option but to join a tide of migrants including refugees, seeking to leave Libya by sea, a route that has become increasingly perilous since the latest fighting broke out.

Since Libya’s latest crisis started in mid-July, IOM has repatriated 125 migrants from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire via Tunisia. It is presently working to arrange the evacuation of 30 Yemeni laborers seeking safe passage from Tripoli.

IOM this past Sunday successfully evacuated from Tripoli 12 women from Ethiopia and Cote d’Ivoire to Tunisia. The women were living without basic assistance – food, water, psychological support – in immigration detention centers in Libya’s capital.

Through the month of August IOM monitors say at least 6,000 Egyptian nationals have also fled Libya through the country’s borders with Egypt and Tunisia. Nonetheless, IOM estimates up to one million Egyptians remain in Libya.

Despite the difficult circumstances, IOM intends to continue evacuation operations for as long as it can.

Sky-rocketing food prices, severe power cuts, fuel shortages and difficulty in purchasing basic goods and services may limit all relief agencies’ efforts in the field, IOM’s Chief of Mission warns.

“This security situation has an impact on our capacity to deliver assistance. Our staff in Tripoli can no longer move freely, but are doing all they can to help migrants in dire need of assistance,” he says.



International Office of Migration (IOM)


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