More than 1,200 African migrants who have been seeking refuge at an IOM transit centre in the southern Libyan city of Sebha are being evacuated to Chad, ending weeks of uncertainty and fear over their future.
The migrants, part of a large group of several thousand who had arrived at the centre as the battle for control of Sebha began, left on a convoy of 15 trucks on Sunday 2nd October, accompanied by the Chadian Deputy Consul and Chadian and Nigerian community elders.
After stopping briefly in Gatroun, the migrants will be heading initially for Zouarké on the Chadian/Niger border on a journey that will take about a week. There, they will be met by IOM staff at its way station where the migrants will be provided with fresh supplies of food and water, as well as given medical assistance and shelter.
From Zouarké, IOM staff will escort the convoy to Faya Largeau where further assistance will be given to the migrants before they are taken to their final destinations either inside Chad or elsewhere in Africa.
There migrants being evacuated with support from the US, Germany and the European Community’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection office (ECHO) represent 11 different nationalities. Just over half of the 1,206 on the convoy are Chadians with the remainder of the migrants from Nigeria, Gambia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Senegal, Mali, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and Morocco. Among them are women and children.
“It has been an extremely worrying few weeks for the migrants. They had been caught in the middle of this conflict for control of Sebha. The fighting had prevented us from getting supplies into our centre in the town and in getting the migrants out. Thankfully, this is no longer the case,” says IOM Chief of Mission in Chad, Qasim Sufi. “The migrants are extremely relieved that they will now be able to get home and put this experience behind them.”
Another group of several hundred migrants of various different nationalities are still in Sebha awaiting evacuation assistance.