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Sub-Saharan Africans Stranded in Libya


An Egyptian, who has just crossed Salloum land port gate with Libya, at background, takes a nap over his luggage. Thousands of other foreigners were still stranded, February 23, 2011

An Egyptian, who has just crossed Salloum land port gate with Libya, at background, takes a nap over his luggage. Thousands of other foreigners were still stranded, February 23, 2011

Thousands of people are pouring from Libya's borders, but the International Organization for Migration says Sub-Saharan Africans are not among those leaving.

Jemini Pandya is from the inter-governmental International Organization for Migration.

"On the Tunisian border with Libya in the past three day there have been nearly 7,000 Tunisians who have crossed over, some Moroccans, some Lebanese, some Egyptians, and then various other nationalities such as some Chinese and Canadians, British, Australians, Germans. But the most remarkable thing is actually what we are not seeing. What we are not seeing is the number of Sub-Saharan Africans crossing over in Tunisia," Pandya said.

Chaos has erupted in Libya, following a government crackdown against an opposition revolt.

The country’s leader, Moammar Gadhafi is battling to keep control of the capital, Tripoli, and other areas in the West.

Pandya says people in Libya are eager to get away from the bloodshed, but she is not surprised that Sub-Saharan Africans are not reaching the border areas.

"They are the poorest people in Libya, often working in manual labor on a day-to-day basis in Libya in the informal sector, and they will not have the resources to rent the cars and the buses to take them to the border areas,” she explains. “So the chances are that they are bunkering down and staying put in the places where they are, mainly Tripoli, because there is no other way for them to get to the border areas."

Some sub-Saharan African countries including Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya say they are evacuating their nationals. But Pandya says other countries in the region cannot help their citizens escape the chaos. "They do not have the resources to do so. I am not even sure what presence they have inside Libya in order to organize movement of their people," Pandya states.

Mr. Gadhafi is blaming the revolt against his leadership on al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

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