Libya exodus 'emergency' as 1000s flee

2011-02-28 08:44
Valletta - The UN refugee agency said a "humanitarian emergency" was underway as thousands fled Libya over the weekend in a mass exodus of foreigners from the strife-torn country by air, land and sea.

The agency said almost 100 000 migrant workers, mostly from Egypt and Tunisia, had fled Libya in the past week and many remained stranded at the Libya-Tunisia border as Libyan customs officers deserted their posts on Sunday.

"We call upon the international community to respond quickly and generously to enable these governments to cope with this humanitarian emergency," said Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Meanwhile two ferries docked late on Sunday with some 300 people, including the ambassadors to Libya from Malta and Portugal, on the Mediterranean island of Malta. As the closest European Union member state located just 350km north of Libya, it has become a key hub in the desperate scramble to get foreigners out of Libya.

Malta's Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said his island nation had received some 8,000 people since the Libyan crisis began and he feared there could be an even greater exodus.

"There could be an escalation," Gonzi said at a press conference lateon Sunday. "We have brought back from Libya more than 8 000 people representing 89 nationalities."

Huge multinational workforce

"If the situation continues to escalate, we'll need help from Europe and share the burden with our European partners," he said, adding that in his view the end was in sight.

"The leadership of (Muammar) Gaddafi needs to end and its end is inevitable," he said.

Earlier a ferry arrived in Malta loaded with some 1 800 Asian workers - chartered by Brazilian energy infrastructure company Odebrecht - included citizens of China, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam who will be flown back to their homelands from Malta.

Libya, one of Africa's biggest oil producers, had a huge multinational workforce before the current crisis including construction workers, oil industry workers and domestic helpers from Bangladesh, China, Egypt and the Philippines.

Some 4 600 people fleeing the violence in Libya, mostly Chinese nationals, arrived in the Greek ports of Piraeus and Heraklion on Sunday. Three Greek ferries have evacuated more than 7 000 foreign nationals from Libya.

Several hundred Vietnamese and Filipinos also made their escape by land to neighbouring Algeria, abandoning their construction jobs, along with 109 Libyans and three Belarussians, the Algerian news agency APS reported.

Read more on:    un  |  muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  libya protests  |  north africa  |  uprisings

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

It may be hard to maintain a steady rhythm as you find yourself juggling a zillion things. Slow down a little and let go of more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.