IOM: Thousands of migrants stranded in Misrata

A man holds an 81mm illumination mortar shell on the frontline along the western entrance of Ajdabiyah April 14, 2011. REUTERS

IOM is deeply concerned at the fate of at least 6,000 migrants stranded in the Libyan city of Misrata in an extremely poor state with an IOM-chartered boat currently en route to the city’s port aiming to rescue as many as it can.

After many weeks of living often in the open, limited food, no clean water and in fear, it has been reported to IOM that the migrants are in a desperately worrying condition with many severely dehydrated and weak.

Of the 6,000 awaiting evacuation, two thirds are Egyptians, with also large groups of Nigeriens, Bangladeshis, Ghanaians, Sudanese and Nigerians and other nationalities such as Iraqis and Tunisians.

“IOM has been trying for several weeks to evacuate the migrants from Misrata but much to our frustration it has not been possible until now. From reports on the ground, this rescue mission cannot come soon enough,” says an IOM staff member on the boat. “It is going to be heartbreaking not being able to take everyone out at once.”

The Organization, which is constantly struggling with a shortage of funds to provide evacuation and other humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing Libya, doesn’t currently have sufficient funds to evacuate all of the estimated 6,000 in Misrata.

“We should not be put in a position of deciding who we save when so many people are in an appalling situation everywhere,” says Fernando Calado, IOM’s Head of Emergencies and Post Crisis Division.

The IOM-chartered boat which has a capacity of 800 people is also carrying hundreds of tons of urgently needed humanitarian aid to Misrata.

The boat is loaded with more than 400 tons of food, non-food and medical assistance which IOM staff say shows an outpouring of goodwill from the Libyan population.

Libyan businesses, private individuals as well as national and international non-governmental organizations such as the Libyan Red Crescent, Libyan Appeal Team, Mercy Corps, ACTED and Cesvi have donated the goods and medical supplies. These include food, both dried and fresh, water, baby food and baby supplies, as well as medicines and medical supplies for hospitals.

The Libyan Appeal Team has donated 108 tons of 27 kilo family food parcels for immediate distribution, with each parcel able to provide a family with basic nutrition.

The aid contributions are based on what is needed in the city. This includes 195 tons of pasta which is in extremely short supply as well as fresh food such as onions and other vegetables.

Medical supplies are based on what doctors who have left Misrata have informed are desperately needed in hospitals in the city.

The humanitarian aid on the boat will help to alleviate some of the suffering in the city with reports that at least 2,000 families have been displaced by fighting there and who are currently either being hosted by other families or seeking shelter wherever they can find it.

IOM is liaising with aid committees on the ground which will organize and carry out the aid distributions.

For further information, please contact Jemini Pandya, IOM Geneva, Tel: + 41 22 717 9486/+41 79 217 3374 Email: jpandya@iom.int or Jumbe Omari Jumbe, Tel: + 41 22 717 9405/+ 41 79 812 7734 email: jjumbe@iom.int

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