News / Africa

Tunisians Flee Libya Turmoil

Members of a Tunisian family carry their belongings after they fled from Libya, at the Tunisia-Libya border near the village of Ras Ajdir, Tunisia, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011
Members of a Tunisian family carry their belongings after they fled from Libya, at the Tunisia-Libya border near the village of Ras Ajdir, Tunisia, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011
Lisa Bryant

Thousands of people fled violence-torn Libya into neighboring Tunisia Wednesday, using every form of transport they could. Our reporter was at the Tunis airport where hundreds of Tunisian workers arrived home on emergency flights.

The Tunis-Carthage airport was packed late Wednesday as relatives massed to greet haggard loved ones arriving from Libya. Kais Badri was among the arrivals - fleeing Tripoli where he had spent four months working as a cook. Like a number of those who arrived, he said he saw none of the reported violence against anti-government protesters first-hand.

"I don't see anything like what I see on TV," said Badri. "I just listen in the night.  Like everybody, the sound of guns. There is the sound of weapons. no more.  I don't see anybody dying. I don't see army plane in the air. "

After undergoing their own popular revolt a month ago, Tunisians are fleeing another country that is doing the same - but in a much more violent manner as Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi tries to crush an uprising against his 41-year-old rule.

Many Tunisians - like 25-year-old store assistant Jaled Trabelsi - have flocked to oil-rich Libya over the years, seeking jobs they couldn't find at home.

Trabelsi, who spent five months working in Tripoli, says some Tunisians have been beaten by Libyan authorities in recent days, although he had not. He says everyone is leaving Libya. The situation is serious. But like others here, he was hiding in his home there when the fighting took place.

Nearby, a young woman, Mouna Hami, stood with a friend, scanning anxiously for her husband among the arrivals.

Hami said she had no news from her husband in four days. She said it had been impossible to reach him on her cell phone.

Thousands of other people crossed over Tunisia's eastern border with Libya by foot and car, with grim stories of fighting and deaths.

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