Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Migrants Continue to be Vulnerable in Libyan Conflict

7 Jun 2011 16:46 Africa/Lagos


Migrants Continue to be Vulnerable in Libyan Conflict

GENEVA, June 7, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- IOM Press Briefing Notes


The on-going conflict and political stalemate in Libya has left migrants in a situation of continued vulnerability, with large groups stranded across the country.


During an assessment of the humanitarian needs in various parts of Libya, IOM staff reported on the plight of a large community of mostly African and Filipino migrant workers sheltering in two sites in the capital, Tripoli.


Staff say some of the migrants have been without jobs since the beginning of the crisis as their employers had left the country. Feeling they have nothing to return to, they stay on in Libya in the vain hope that they may receive back pay from their employers or find another job. Others have been left to take care of employers' properties but have not been paid since February.


The majority, from Ghana, Togo, Sudan, Nigeria, Cameroon and other African countries, are unskilled and undocumented workers.


Like the others, they are dependent on whatever food and shelter people of goodwill from within and outside their community can provide with some basic food prices having increased by up to three times since the start of the crisis.


Although the numbers of migrants managing to flee Libya on a daily basis have slowed down in recent weeks, migrants continue to be stranded in towns and cities around the country.


The Malian Ambassador to Tripoli estimates between 8,000-10,000 of his compatriots remain in western Libya, mostly in Sabha, Gadames, Ubari and Murzuk, while the vulnerability of Sub-Saharan Africans in the eastern part of the country has led to Malians there fleeing into Egypt.


Thousands of Egyptian migrants are also believed to be still in the country, according to the Egyptian Ambassador to Tripoli. While most are thought to be in the south in cities such as Gatroun and Sabha, others are in places like Sirt and in need of evacuation.


As these reports emerge, IOM is continuing its efforts to access Gatroun where many Chadians are reported to be stranded. IOM interviews with Chadians who are returning home by truck reveal that many migrants have stayed as long as they could in Libya in the hope of being given months of unpaid wages. Lack of food and water was forcing them to finally leave.


Meanwhile, an eighth IOM mission to evacuate another group of migrants by sea from the port city of Misrata concluded late last week.


The mission, funded by the US State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, rescued 166 migrants, the majority from Sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeriens, Chadians, Ghanaians and Sudanese. The rest comprised Palestinians, Moroccans, Egyptians, Tunisians as well as migrants from Jordan, Britain and Pakistan.


Thirty-six war-wounded casualties were evacuated to Benghazi with the migrants, bringing the number of people rescued from Misrata to about 7,200.


The IOM-chartered ship also delivered hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid and provided the logistics for the deployment of an IOM-led interagency assessment team to Misrata to assess humanitarian needs there after months of fighting.


So far, IOM has provided evacuation assistance to about 31,000 people from inside Libya including the Misrata operations. More than 9,000 migrants including Sub-Saharan Africans have been transported by road from Tripoli to the Tunisian border and nearly 15,000 from Benghazi in the east to the Egyptian border.


Since late February, IOM has helped nearly 144,000 migrants in Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Chad and Niger with evacuation assistance back to their home countries.


As the crisis drags on, the numbers of people fleeing across Libya borders continue to mount steadily. More than 952,000 people have so far crossed into its six neighbouring countries or arrived in Italy and Malta.


Source: International Office of Migration (IOM)



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