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Migrant Workers in Libya at Growing Risk, Could Feed Deadly Mediterranean Exodus

By International Office of Migration (IOM)
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GENEVA, Switzerland, October 14, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- In a new Libya Situation Report this week, IOM notes that the devastating violence of recent months in the country has left some 200,000 migrant workers vulnerable with many in need of immediate evacuation assistance.

“As the security situation in Libya continues to deteriorate, there have been a large number of third country nationals (TCNs) trapped inside Libya as the borders between Libya and Egypt/Tunisia remain practically closed to them,” the report notes.

“Without valid travel documents and confirmed airline reservations, the authorities will not allow migrants to cross the border. Many also do not have sufficient means to organize their onward travel to their country of origin,” it adds.

The report goes on to explain that these obstacles are reflected “in the extraordinarily high numbers of migrants arriving on Italian shores during this summer.”

“Migrants who are destitute risk getting into overcrowded and dilapidated boats. This has led to the deaths of more than 2,000 migrants at sea and hundreds of bodies washed on Libyan shores in recent weeks,” it adds.

IOM says efforts are being made by the Libyan Coast Guard, which on October 2 rescued 190 migrants near the coastal town of Garabulli, some 60 kilometres from Tripoli. On the same day 167 migrants on board a boat in distress were saved by a Greek tanker about 90 miles north of Benghazi.

IOM Libya continues to track stranded migrants who wish to receive repatriation support through the IOM network. In the past two weeks, IOM booked 43 Sudanese on an Afriqiyah Airways outbound flight to Khartoum. One Yemeni and 11 Nepalese were also evacuated by land to the Tunisian border and then by air to their home countries. Another group of 22 stranded Nigerians were airlifted home via Cairo.

IOM Tripoli also is helping migrants to return home from Tripoli's Mitiga Airport. It organizes the issuance and/or renewal of travel documents by liaising with concerned embassies in either Egypt, Tunisia or Libya. With most foreign representatives absent from the Libyan capital, the provision of valid travel documents is a major challenge both administratively and logistically.