Gaddafi loyalists stop migrants leaving

2011-03-08 22:36

Geneva - Soldiers loyal to Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi have prevented about 30 000 migrant workers from fleeing into Tunisia and forced many to return to work in the Libyan capital, a Red Crescent official said on Tuesday.

Ibrahim Osman of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told The Associated Press that the migrant workers were rounded up and held in Libyan immigration buildings near the Tunisian border last week.

Osman, who heads the agency's assessment teams in northern Africa, said Gaddafi soldiers were forcibly returning many of the 30 000 Bangladeshis, Egyptians and sub-Saharan Africans nearing the Ras Ajdir border crossing.

He said loyalists held a pro-government demonstration at the crossing and appeared to have forcibly returned the migrants to service jobs.

"They were pulled back by the Libyans," Osman told The Associated Press. "They were taken back to resume their services, because Tripoli used a lot of those people for basic workers, to clean the hospitals."


Osman said some of the refugees and foreign workers streaming across the border at Ras Ajdir, where he returned from over the weekend, told of seeing Gaddafi's armed soldiers using ambulances as "a tool to enter the hospital" in Tripoli and remove patients to execute them elsewhere.

"People claimed they collect them," he said. "They don't kill them on the bed."

The UN refugee agency expressed alarm on Tuesday at what it called rising violence by armed Libyans against sub-Saharan Africans, both in the rebel-controlled eastern portions and in Gaddafi's stronghold in the west.

Fear is intense among Africans in Libya because of widespread tales of "African" mercenaries hired to do Gaddafi's killing for him. In some cities, suspected mercenaries have been lynched.

UN refugee officials said a group of Sudanese who reached the Egypt border from eastern Libya said armed Libyans were going door to door, forcing sub-Saharan Africans to leave, and 12-year-old Sudanese girl was said to have been raped.

The agency also reported that many people had their documents confiscated or destroyed.

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