Tag Archives: Melissa Fleming

Some Refugees Who Fled Libya Return in Effort to Board Boats to Europe

Last week, UNHCR reported that hundreds of people who recently fled Libya to Tunisia and Egypt are returning to Libya in an effort to board boats for Europe.  “Among them are refugees, including members of the Somali, Ethiopian and Eritrean communities in the camps at Choucha near Tunisia’s border with Libya.”  UNHCR is warning of the dangers of trying to reach Europe by sea and of returning to Libya.  “UNHCR has met with refugees in Tripoli who are planning to make the perilous sea journey. ‘They are all aware of the high death toll, but they told us that they feel they have nothing to lose. One Eritrean man told us he would rather die trying to reach safety than continue to live in danger,’ [UNHCR’s chief spokesperson, Melissa] Fleming said.”  “Fleming [also] said that UNHCR had learnt with sadness ‘that people on track for resettlement, following interviews last year in Libya, lost their lives while trying to reach Europe recently. People in the middle of the resettlement process and vulnerable cases are prioritized in our interview schedule.’”

Click here for UNHCR statement.

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Filed under Egypt, European Union, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia, UNHCR

Guardian: Libya Official Admits Migrant Ships Being Allowed to Sail as Protest Against Nato

From today’s Guardian:  “The Libyan regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is allowing thousands of sub-Saharan African migrants on to overcrowded, unseaworthy ships in an apparently calculated attempt to use migration as a weapon to pressure Nato and the EU countries backing Libya‘s rebels. [***] Officials said they were doing nothing to encourage the journeys to Italy, but could see no reason to stop them, because doing so would serve the interests of Nato member states bombing Libya.

‘We say to Europe that we can no longer do what we used to do,’ said the prime minister, al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi. ‘And that’s because Nato has ruined our coastal defences.’ [***] [S]urvivors told the [UNHCR] that some ships were leaving Tripoli only for their captain to disembark once they were at sea and take a pilot boat back to shore.  ‘They [the migrants] are told, “here’s the compass, you go that way”,’ [UNHCR spokesperson Melissa] Fleming said. [***]”

Click here for Guardian article.

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Filed under Libya, Mediterranean, News, UNHCR