Ship heads to Tripoli to evacuate migrants

2011-08-22 13:35

Geneva - The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Monday that it had dispatched a ship to the Libyan capital Tripoli to evacuate migrants.

It said the ship with a capacity to carry 300 people had left the eastern city of Benghazi earlier on Monday.

"The boat, the Tasucu, is due to arrive in Tripoli on Tuesday and will leave for Benghazi as soon as IOM is able to successfully board the migrants," said the inter-governmental agency.

More than 5 000 Bangladeshis, Filipinos and Egyptians have asked the migration agency for help to leave the capital.

With rebels pushing into Tripoli, "it is unclear how many foreign nationals working in the country would still wish to leave", said the IOM, adding that it would carry out further evacuations by sea if necessary.

The agency also urged both parties of the conflict to allow those seeking evacuation to make their way safely to the port.

Those evacuated to Benghazi would be first taken by road to the Egyptian border at Salloum before they get help to return to their home countries, said the IOM.

"The situation is extremely fluid, not only in terms of how many people may have changed their minds about leaving, but also in terms of changing counterparts on the ground," said Pasquale Lupoli, who is the IOM's regional director in the Middle East.

"We hope the IOM boat will be able to dock on Tuesday on time and that the Organisation will be able to safely carry out its mission," added Lupoli.