Migrants from Libya burden for Tunisia

2011-02-23 22:40

Geneva - Several thousand foreign migrants from Libya have crossed the Tunisian border in the first major exodus to Tunisia since the Libyan turmoil began, the International Organisation for Migration said on Wednesday.

The agency said it was also trying to organise the evacuation of other nationals from poor nations from inside Libya, including many from Asia.

"It's a first group of migrants. Many crossed the border by car, especially with hired vehicles, and there were two buses," IOM spokesperson Jean-Philippe Chauzy told AFP after the arrivals began late Tuesday.

They included "4 700 Tunisians, 120 Turks and a dozen Lebanese nationals, some west Africans," he added. IOM staff on the border also reported several Syrians and three Germans had crossed the border.

"The arrival of migrants is carrying on today. We have information on hundreds of migrants but that hasn't been confirmed yet," Chauzy said.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said later that Libyan nationals were among the arrivals in Tunisia, but spokesperson Melissa Fleming told AFP the agency did not not know how many Libyans there were.

The UNHCR was locating possible sites for camps in case larger numbers arrive.

Fleeing migrants said they had been stopped at checkpoints on their way where soldiers confiscated mobiles phones, passports and other belongings, Chauzy reported.

1,5 million illegals

The IOM estimated that there were about 1.5 million illegal immigrants in Libya before unrest erupted there on February 15.

Although a significant number come from Egypt, Tunisia, west and east Africa, there are also migrants from Asia, mainly Filipinos, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Chinese, according to the agency.

"We are looking at all possible options for the evacuations of third countries nationalities from Libya," said IOM spokesperson Jemini Pandya.

"We need money from donors to ease the evacuation of migrants from the poorest countries to Tunisia," he added.

Join the conversation!

24.com 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.
Read more on:    unhcr  |  iom  |  libya  |  libya protests  |  north africa  |  uprisings

24.com 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


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Barnes to ref Boks, Wales clash
Brave Blossoms: 'Sport heroes of Japan'
Ireland wary of the Pumas
France must get in All Blacks minds

You may find it hard to focus on the mundane routines as the greener pastures seem so tempting. It is a good time to expand your...read 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 24.com 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.