IOM Calls on Warring Parties to Protect Migrants Stranded at Its Centre in Sebha

Posted: 
09/05/11

IOM is making an urgent appeal to warring parties in southern Libya
to respect international humanitarian law and ensure no harm comes
to the more than 1,200 migrants seeking refuge at an
IOM-established migrant transit centre in the town of Sebha while
it works out how best to evacuate them.

The Organization will also be sending a high-level delegation to
both Tripoli and Benghazi as soon as possible.

Contact with authorities in Sebha have revealed that migrants,
mainly Chadians but also including some Nigeriens, Nigerians and
others, have sought protection at the IOM centre from the growing
fighting between rival forces on the outskirts of the town.

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However, with no electricity, fuel, and little food and water,
the situation for the migrants and those in the town is becoming
increasingly difficult.

"The migrants are very scared and threatened. They include women
and children. For two weeks, we lost all communication with Sebha,
where we knew there was a group of migrants in need. Yesterday, we
received an urgent call from the authorities in Sebha telling us of
the large number of people now seeking refuge at the IOM centre and
the urgent need to evacuate them," says IOM Chief of Mission for
Chad, Qasim Sufi, who recently led an IOM air evacuation operation
from Sebha.

IOM is particularly concerned over this group of Sub-Saharan
African migrants as there is no longer any political infrastructure
in Sebha that would be able to support the migrants while plans are
put into place to evacuate the migrants.

Sebha, a Gaddafi stronghold, has an airport from where IOM
successfully evacuated nearly 1,400 vulnerable Chadian and other
migrant nationalities in July. Among them were many women, children
and the elderly who had fled areas around Tripoli, Misrata,
Benghazi and Sebha itself.

However, with the likelihood of an all-out assault on Sebha,
this route may not be feasible.

For further information, please contact:

Jean-Philippe Chauzy

Tel: +41 22 717 9361 / +41 79 285 4366

E-mail: "mailto:jpchauzy@iom.int">jpchauzy@iom.int

or

Jemini Pandya

IOM Geneva

Tel: +41 22 717 9486 / +41 79 217 3374

E-mail: "mailto:jpandya@iom.int">jpandya@iom.int