News24

Over 57 000 flee Libya violence to Niger

2011-04-26 19:23

Niamey - Some 57 200 west Africans, mostly from Niger, have fled violence in Libya to the neighbouring country since February 13, the International Organisation for Migration said on Tuesday.

The vast majority of the migrants, 54 000, were Niger citizens while the rest come from other west African nations, the IOM head of mission in Niger Abibatou Wane told a press conference.

She said those fleeing the violence arrived from Libya by road in trucks.

Niger public television has shown images of the migrants perched on overloaded trucks, exhausted from their desert crossing, on arrival in Dirkou, a town near the Libyan border.

"Upon their arrival in Dirkou, we identify the most vulnerable, with an emphasis on the women and children, to whom we offer food and first aid," said Wane.

She said Niger nationals were then routed to Agadez, three days by road from Dirkou, before they returned to their respective regions. Other west Africans are taken to the capital Niamey and then to their respective countries.

On Saturday, three of these migrants were killed and 72 injured, 22 seriously, when the truck carrying them was involved in an accident near Agadez.

Hundreds of thousands of west African nationals live in Libya, an oil-rich magnet for migrant workers before being gripped by violence sparked by an uprising against leader Muammar Gaddafi.