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Libya

UN helps evacuate migrants from Libya

Reuters/Zohra Bensemra
5 min

The United Nations has issued an appeal for 114 million euros to cover the needs of people who are leaving Libya or who are trapped in the country. While the International Office of Migration says there are fewer people arriving this week, compared to the week before, many are now waiting on the borders because they do not have passports or other identification documents.

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“Overwhelmingly, the migrant workers who are arriving here are all saying the same thing: they want to go home, they need assistance to go home,” Jean-Philippe Chauzy of the IOM, who is on the border between Libya and Tunisia, told RFI.

Jean-Philippe Chauzy, International Office of Migration

He says that 3,000 people came across the border on Sunday - a steady stream, though less than the 12-14,000 people arriving a week ago.

Most of those leaving are from south Asia, with only a few from southern Africa. Chauzy says this means many people may still be in Libya, though it is hard to know how many.

“If you’re looking at nationals from sub-Saharan Africa or West Africa, a large percentage of those migrants had come to Libya through smuggling networks. They had never been registered, and it is of course very difficult then to have an exact idea how many more inside the country,” he explains.

Few are coming out over the border, “possibly because most of them are terrified and frightened of leaving the places where they’re hiding,” says Chauzy.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

“There’s a lot of resentment and xenophobia against the African migrants in Libya. They have been targeted, from the information that we are receiving.”

Many of these migrants were working illegally, without papers. Chauzy says the IOM is working with consular authorities from other countries to identify them, and provide them with temporary documents.

“Because you cannot evacuate a person who does not have identification documents,” he says.

In addition to Tunisia, several thousand migrants are still stranded in Turkey, Malta and Greece, after being evacuated from Libya.

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