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Ship Waiting Off Tripoli To Evacuate Migrants When Safe

The International Organization for Migration reports a ship it has chartered to evacuate migrants from the Libyan capital, Tripoli, will not dock at the port until security improves. The boat was to transport 300 migrants stranded in the city by violence.

The International Organization for Migration says the IOM-chartered ship will remain off the coast of Tripoli until conditions are safe enough for it to dock.

IOM spokesman Jean-Philippe Chauzy says the agency always seeks to get the green light from the warring parties before it begins an evacuation operation. He tells VOA the International Organization for Migration has informed the rebel National Transitional Council and NATO of its plans to evacuate 300 stranded migrants.

But he says the Organization has not been able to tell the Libyan government of its intentions.

“At the moment, as you know, the situation in Tripoli is still fluid and we are having some problems for the time being identifying interlocutors within the Libyan government. Obviously, we still are working towards getting the information across to make sure that this humanitarian evacuation program can be carried out in security, to make sure that the safety of the evacuees is guaranteed,” Chauzy said.

Chauzy says the IOM has received requests from thousands of migrants who want help in leaving Tripoli. He says several thousand migrants from Bangladesh, the Philippines and Egypt have registered with their embassies for transport out of Tripoli.

He says it is clear that thousands of others also want to leave, but are unable to reach their embassies because of the fighting. This includes thousands of sub-Saharan Africans who live on the outskirts of Tripoli.

He says once the Organization gets the green light for its operation to go ahead, the agency will be able to quickly bring other chartered ships to Tripoli to assist in the evacuation.

“Depending on the demand for evacuation, we will crank up our operation. We have several other ships that can be chartered at short notice and can be dispatched to Tripoli within 48 to 72 hours and we will respond to those evacuation needs depending again on numbers,” he said.

Chauzy says each of three ships that are on standby has the capacity to take 1,000 migrants.

The International Organization for Migration says it is very concerned about the well-being of thousands of migrants scattered around Tripoli, who are trapped by the fighting between government and rebel forces. The IOM is urgently calling for all parties to allow it to carry out its humanitarian work in safety.