Libya – 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.
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.