UNHCR: Sub-Saharan Africans Targeted in Libya; 2 IOM Ships Evacuate Migrants from Tripoli

UNHCR said Friday that reports are emerging from Tripoli that “people being targeted because of their colour as the city fell to rebel forces”; UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres called for sub-Saharan Africans to be protected.  “The High Commissioner has urged restraint from rebel forces and Libyan civilians. ‘We have seen at earlier stages in this crisis that such people, Africans especially, can be particularly vulnerable to hostility or acts of vengeance,’ he said.  ‘It is crucial that humanitarian law prevails through these climactic moments and that foreigners – including refugees and migrant workers – are being fully and properly protected from harm,’ he stressed.”

IOM has chartered ships in order to evacuate migrants from Tripoli to Benghazi.  According to IOM, 263 people were evacuated from Tripoli on Thursday night.  “Among those evacuated were Egyptians, Lebanese, Algerians, Filipinos, Americans, Swiss, Lebanese, Italians, Indians, Sudanese, a German, a Canadian and an Iraqi.”  A second IOM-chartered ship, probably the Fehim Bay (which according to MarineTraffic.com is currently a Moldovan flagged ship), was scheduled to evacuate a larger group of migrants on Saturday.  According to AIS tracking information, the ship as of Sunday morning is en route to Benghazi.  IOM reported that “the second evacuation operation will aim to assist groups of Bangladeshi, Chinese, Filipino, Indian and Egyptian migrants.”

From IOM statements: “IOM staff in Tripoli say that getting migrants scattered across [Tripoli] to the port is the single most challenging issue of the operation.  Continued fighting in parts of the city, the many checkpoints and sniper fire represent the main obstacles to movement within the city as well as lack of fuel.  ‘Movement is extremely slow as well as dangerous. Crossing checkpoints manned by different groups with different demands is very challenging,’ says IOM Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Pasquale Lupoli. ‘And then there are snipers.’  Although IOM managed to get the 263 migrants to the port through arrangements with some concerned embassies and other parties, the Organization remains deeply concerned that migrants who want and need evacuation assistance may not be able to get it because they cannot get to the port. Some, such as Sub-Saharan Africans, are largely on the outskirts of Tripoli and far from the port vicinity.”

Click here for UNHCR press statement.

Click here and here for IOM press statements.

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Filed under Libya, Mediterranean, News, UNHCR

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