News / Africa

Thousands of sub-Saharan Africans Remain Stranded in Libya

Refugees gather near burnt tents at Choucha camp in Tunisia near the Libyan border, May 22, 2011
Refugees gather near burnt tents at Choucha camp in Tunisia near the Libyan border, May 22, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

Many sub-Saharan migrants remain stranded in Libya as the conflict there continues. Most are from Ghana, Togo, Sudan, Nigeria and Cameroon, but many Malian and Egyptian migrants are also unable to return home.

The International Organization for Migration [IOM] says the migrants, often unskilled and undocumented, have been without jobs since the crisis began.

Only estimates

“What we know prior to the crisis in Libya is that there were literally hundreds of thousands of African migrant workers in Libya,” said IOM spokesman Jean Philippe Chauzy.

A more accurate estimate has been hard to come by because so many are undocumented and not registered with their embassies.

“Over the past four months, we’ve seen an exodus of migrant workers out of Libya. In excess of 900,000 people have left the country, have fled the country. That being said, there are probably tens of thousands of stranded migrant workers…that are still in Libya and cannot leave the country for security reasons or simply because they can’t afford to leave the country,” he said.

IOM teams are trying to locate the migrants in Tripoli and elsewhere and determine their humanitarian needs. After that, arrangements would be made to evacuate them, most likely to Tunisia or Egypt.

“We are also concerned about the plight of African workers, who are fleeing Libya, and arriving in very, very difficult and desperate circumstances in countries like Chad and in Niger,” he said.

IOM is working with both Libyan authorities and diplomatic missions to determine just how many migrant workers remain in the country.

“That’s quite a difficult job,” Chauzy said, “Many of those nationals from sub-Saharan Africa…were smuggled into Libya and were employed in the informal sector of the Libyan economy and therefore were totally invisible to the diplomatic missions and to the humanitarian community inside Libya.

Many migrants are also trying to make their way to neighboring Egypt.

“We’ve now had an outflow of migrant workers, mostly from eastern Libya into Egypt. The outflow continues and includes obviously migrant workers from African countries, but also from Asia. We also have migrant workers that are still continuing to come out through the Tunisian border. But our concern and our focus remains also very much on northern Niger and northern Chad,” he said.

He described the journey to Niger and Chad as “incredibly dangerous,” taking them across the desert in southern Libya. Once they cross the border, they face another long journey to find towns capable of providing humanitarian assistance.

“People who are arriving in those localities are usually completely exhausted simply because of the sheer difficulty they have faced,” Chauzy said.

Misrata

IOM has used the port of Misrata to evacuate migrants and others from Libya. Boats carry them to Benghazi.

“To date, we’ve evacuated about 7,200 stranded migrant workers out of Misrata. We’ve also managed every single time the boat went into Misrata to bring in hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid to the population of Misrata, including medical assistance. We’ve evacuated wounded people out of Misrata. Obviously, the needs in Misrata remain enormous,” he said.

IOM has helped evacuate about 31,000 people from Libya so far, including its Misrata operations.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid