News / Africa

People Prevented From Fleeing Combat Zones in Libya

Men, who used to work in Libya and fled the unrest in the country, carry their belongings as they arrive during a sand storm in a refugee camp at the Tunisia-Libyan border, in Ras Ajdir, Tunisia, March 15, 2011
Men, who used to work in Libya and fled the unrest in the country, carry their belongings as they arrive during a sand storm in a refugee camp at the Tunisia-Libyan border, in Ras Ajdir, Tunisia, March 15, 2011

The United Nations refugee agency is appealing to countries to provide a safe haven for civilians fleeing violence inside Libya.  The UNHCR says it is very worried that many people needing to flee combat areas are either unable to go or are being prevented from leaving. 

Fighting in Libya is intensifying.  And yet, the U.N. refugee agency says relatively few people are fleeing across borders in search of refuge.

UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming calls this very strange and very worrying.  In a situation of conflict, she says significant numbers of injured people and women and children typically head for other countries in search of safety.

But so far, she says UNHCR staffs at the borders with Egypt and Tunisia are seeing far fewer people crossing the border than would be expected given the level of the conflict.  

“We appeal again to all parties to ensure safe passage for all civilians fleeing the violence.  We continue to worry about the sub-Saharan nationals who are in all parts of Libya.  We believe their situation is particularly critical.  We are still getting calls from them, anguished calls on our hotlines.  And we are hearing that Eritrean refugees are being detained in detention centers in both eastern and western parts of the country,” she said.  

Fleming says people fleeing Libya are reporting that those who are injured are not being allowed to leave.  She says she does not know why.  But she says some may be dissuaded because the journey from Libya to Tunisia is difficult and intimidating.  

The UNHCR spokesman notes the road is riddled with military checkpoints, where people are stopped and their valuables and other possessions stolen.

Despite this, she says there is an increase in the numbers of Libyan citizens fleeing towns under fire who are crossing the borders.

“So, just to note that trend, while this was, and probably still is, can be characterized as a primarily evacuation of the migrant population, it could very well, very quickly turn into a situation of mixed flows, as we say, or a refugee crisis,” Fleming stated.

According to Fleming, the U.N. High Commissioner, Antonio Guterres, has released an additional $5 million from UNHCR’s operational reserve.  This money is to cover the costs of a further 75 UNHCR flights, which will carry some 15,000 Africans to sub-Saharan African destinations.

Since the crisis erupted in February, the UNHCR reports more than 280,000 people have fled the violence in Libya.

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

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More