Thousands of migrants stranded in Misrata

2011-04-10 22:17

Geneva - The international Red Cross expressed concern on Sunday about several thousand foreign migrants stranded in the open in the besieged Libyan port of Misrata.

The group was found living under tarpaulins and shelters by an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) team that entered the city by sea for a day to evaluate medical conditions and aid needs, spokesperson Nicole Engelbrecht said.

"Our main concern right now is the stranded foreign nationals living in the vicinity of the port," she told AFP.

The Libyan Red Crescent "are estimating that we are talking 6 000 to 7 000 people, from Egypt, Sudan, Chad and other countries," Engelbrecht added.

The ICRC was unable to verify the exact number for now.

The five ICRC staff, who arrived on Saturday with a cargo of emergency medical supplies, visited the main hospital and a Libyan Red Crescent hospital there before sailing back to Benghazi on Sunday.

Engelbrecht declined to give any casualty figures after more than three weeks of fighting for control of rebel-held Misrata because they had not been verified.

An opposition spokesperson said eight rebels were killed by pro-Gaddafi forces and 22 were wounded on Saturday.

Expand relief aid

A doctor at Misrata hospital gave AFP the same death toll for Saturday, saying they included civilians, while putting the number of wounded at 25.

Engelbrecht said the ICRC team wanted to return to Misrata.

"We want to have the support of both sides, and this was organised as a one-day visit," she said.

The ICRC has been providing aid in mainly opposition-held northeastern Libya for several weeks.

The visit to Misrata was part of an operation on Saturday to expand relief aid into northwestern Libya after an ICRC team in Tripoli held talks with Libyan authorities.

The Red Cross ship was carrying enough supplies to treat 300 war wounded.