News / Africa

Sub-Saharan Migrants Remain Stranded in Libyan Town

African migrant workers whom rebels accused of being mercenaries seen detained in a military base in Tripoli, Libya, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011. Hundreds of migrant workers remain stranded in Libya after months of war unable to flee the country. (AP Photo/Serg
African migrant workers whom rebels accused of being mercenaries seen detained in a military base in Tripoli, Libya, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011. Hundreds of migrant workers remain stranded in Libya after months of war unable to flee the country. (AP Photo/Serg
Joe DeCapua

About 3,000 sub-Saharan migrants remain stranded in the western Libyan town of Sebha, which has been under attack from anti-Gadhafi forces. Humanitarian agencies say food, water and shelter are in very short supply.

And getting worse…

Most of the migrants in Sebha, about 2,000, are from Chad. The rest are from the Horn of Africa, Middle East and Asia. And their numbers are growing.

They’ve been arriving in significant numbers in the past few days, as the situation in Sebha worsens. Reports that we’re getting from the ground from the Chadian deputy consular in Sebha is that overnight on Sunday to Monday there was fighting throughout the night.

“People clearly are feeling very scared and threatened and are seeking refuge where they can. And for migrants, it’s in our center,” said Jemini Pandya of the International Organization for Migration, which has a transit center in the town.

The IOM has now rented a compound adjacent to its center to try to accommodate their increasing numbers.

“The situation in the town is becoming increasingly difficult,” she said, “The food is becoming very scarce. There’s no running water and no electricity. And those conditions are replicated exactly in our center. IOM’s local staff, who are working there, are providing whatever food that they can get. But the fact that we’ve got ever increasing numbers of people arriving – combined with the fact that there’s less and less food available for us to buy in Sebha – means that it’s becoming an increasingly difficult and worrying situation for both us and for the migrants.”

No safe route out

IOM wants to evacuate the migrants by road, but it’s simply too dangerous. A safe corridor is yet to be negotiated and there is little fuel available for trucks. The flow of fuel to the town stopped when Tripoli fell to forces loyal to the National Transitional Council.

There are problems elsewhere for sub-Saharan migrants as well.  Between February and early September, more than 75,000 migrants fled Libya into Niger. Many had passed through the northern town of Dirkou. Lately, it’s been difficult to evacuate them from Dirkou to safer, better supplied areas.

Pandya said, “In the past few weeks, since the fall of Tripoli in particular, there’s been a surge in the number of arrivals of sub-Saharan Africans into Niger. These aren’t mainly Nigeriens. They actually represent many, many West African nationalities, particularly Nigerians, actually, who have been telling our IOM staff on the ground in Dirkou, where we have a transit center, that they’re fleeing now because of the targeting of sub-Saharan Africans in Libya.”

IOM had been evacuating the migrants from Dirkou to Agadez, the main town in northern Niger. From there, the migrants are taken to Niamey and then to their home countries.  But in the last two weeks, IOM had has problems getting trucks and fuel. And there’s also been a lack of military escort for those convoys.  That resulted in several thousand migrants awaiting transport in Dirkou, which is not equipped to handle that many people for a prolonged period.

IOM, the Niger Red Crescent Society and other agencies have managed to provide three meals a day and health checks. The agencies received good news Monday night. A Niger military escort was made available for a convoy to carry 1,000 migrants from Dirkou to Agadez.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs