News / Africa

Foreigners Flee Libya Violence, Pour Into Egypt

Egyptians return home from the Sallum border crossing with Libya on February 24, 2011
Egyptians return home from the Sallum border crossing with Libya on February 24, 2011

Thousands of foreigners caught in the violence in Libya are struggling to leave.  Some are able to board aircraft, ferries and other ships chartered by their governments, while others are pouring across the borders of neighboring Egypt.   Many have been helped to safety by Libyans under siege themselves.

Streams of people pour through the dusty desert crossing into Egypt, leaving behind the lives they built in an oil-rich country once offering some measure of hope, however small, of wealth.   

They fled in fear, taking whatever they could:  some a few, simple belongings, bedrolls, a few clothes, the little savings they had at home.  Others have nothing and are only thankful they escaped with their lives.     

Egyptian Wael Mohammad worked as a baker in eastern Libya.  Although the region simmered with resentment against the government in Tripoli, he says he was not afraid when the uprising began.

Mohammad says he thought it would last a day or two.  But then the government counterattacks began.  He says there were machine gun and mortar attacks.  And, mercenaries.   His eyes scanning back across the Libyan plateau, he adds, it was horrifying.

He explains how his coworkers, in a courtyard next door, were stormed by foreign fighters.  He says they had knives, daggers and metal bars and had come to slaughter.   He says it was then he and his friends could no longer stay.

Related slide show by Elizabeth Arrott

 

But, even as thousands of people like Mohammad form a wave flowing out from Libya, another surge is headed in.

The Red Crescent and other humanitarian groups are sending truckloads of supplies and have set up camps for the displaced.

Informal networks have also sprung up, with Libyans from abroad returning home, ferrying in money, medicine, whatever they can to help their countrymen.  

Sayeed Awad is with the Union of Arab Doctors.  He stands on the Egyptian side of the border, pleading the case for those on the other side.

Awad says medicine is in short supply.  He says there is no milk for babies and no anesthesia.  

Yet for all the accounts of the troubles people have endured, the tales of those leaving is one of generosity by the Libyans they left behind.  Simni Admini Mohammad is a shepherd from nearby Saloum.   He was on the wrong side of the border when the violence broke out.

The elderly man sits on the back of a flatbed truck, recalling the help he was given by Libyans along the way back.  He says they stood by their side.   He says the refugees were given aid and support and that they refused money for their aid.

Tears well in the shepherd's eyes. "They gave us everything... God is a witness to what I am saying."  

Around him stand those who, too, have fled  They chant "God is great "and appeal to God to "free Libya."

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid