As the fighting continues in Tripoli, thousands of people are still trying to flee the Libyan capital. Monday, a boat chartered by the International Organization for Migration was on its way to Tripoli to begin evacuating migrant workers.
“The goal is to evacuate initially 5,000 nationals of Bangladesh, Filipinos, Egyptians and some sub-Saharan Africans. This is the number… that has been registered by the embassies and by ourselves. But it is possible that there are many who would like to leave later,” said IOM spokesman Jumbe Omari Jumbe.
“We are sending a boat, Tasucu, which can carry up to 300 people,” he said, describing the initial voyage as a pilot project. There have been reports that boats have been prevented from entering Tripoli’s harbor by both sides.
“We want to make sure that we provide dignified movement and transport for the migrants and safe, as well…. We have two more boats, which are really ready in line if they are needed,” said Jumbe.
If the Tasucu is able to dock and take on migrants, it will sail back to Benghazi. There is a team of doctors on board the vessel to help with immediate medical needs, but the migrants will also receive a health screening in Benghazi.
“Those who are able to travel, we will further assist them to go to their countries. Those who are not able for various reasons like illnesses, disease or whatever, we will care for them in Benghazi… until when they are ready to travel,” said Jumbe.
The Tasucu recently completed a similar mission from Misrata, carrying 124 migrants.
The IOM has also been assisting migrants who walked from Tripoli to Tunisia.
“But that road unfortunately at the moment is impassable because of the fighting. We hope that when things calm down we will start transporting, assisting migrants to travel from Tripoli by road to Tunisia, which is cheaper and quicker. It’s just about a couple of hours to Tunisia, to safety,” said Jumbe.